Joan Lucid reflects on career, legacy in SUSD

Saugus Superintendent Joan Lucid poses in her office on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. She announced on Tuesday that she will retire at the end of the school year. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

At the end of the school year, Saugus Union School District Superintendent Joan Lucid will retire, ending her nearly four-decade tenure in the district where she spent most of her career.

During her 37 years with Saugus, Lucid held a myriad of positions from working as a teacher, project coordinator and principal to acting as the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and as its superintendent.

“I never had a job I haven’t loved,” Lucid said.  “I loved being a teacher, it was absolutely my life’s work and I think it’s just being a teacher in a different capacity as I moved positions.  As principal you are a teacher to teachers, at the district office you’re a teacher to administrators and applauding everyone’s work, and then, from this position, it’s everybody.”

As she changed positions and moved throughout the district, Lucid witnessed SUSD grow and change as it opened new schools, implemented new programs, developed educational initiatives and grew its enrollment size.

“When I started we were a district a little over 3,000 with seven schools and here we are with 15 schools and almost 10,000 kids,” she said.

Students at Santa Clarita Elementary School in Saugus look up as a bottle rocket is launched in the air on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

But, throughout the district’s changes and her own storied career, two constants have remained the same: the expertise and enthusiasm of the district’s staff and Lucid’s dedication to the success of the district’s students.

“Throughout my career I worked with just absolutely incredible people… It’s such a gift to work with people who are dedicated to the profession and wanting what’s best,” Lucid said.  “It takes so many people to make it work and no one person can do that.  I can’t do that by myself and I want to make sure our kids get the best and that’s the most important part to me.”

Becoming a Teacher

At the age of 6 Lucid knew she wanted to become a teacher.  Years later, in 1970, she returned to her former school to work as an elementary teacher for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“Going back with some of the teachers I had had and that was a real eye-opener and I learned a lot,” Lucid said.  “I actually had class sizes of 50.  It was a parochially school and that’s how it was then and there were no jobs in the public sector at that point.”

Ten years later, a university classmate who was teaching in the Saugus district encouraged her to call the district’s assistant superintendent and apply for a teaching job.

“I made that phone call and spent two and a half hours on the phone with the assistant superintendent and then came in for an interview and began teaching up at Skyblue Mesa,” Lucid said.  “I had a kindergarten/first grade class and only 30 children.  I had such an amazing experience.”

FILE PHOTO: Elementary school students in the Sulphur Springs Union School District view the eclipse through eclipse glasses on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Courtesy of the Sulphur Springs Union School District

When the opportunity arose to act as a mentor teacher, Lucid moved to Highlands Elementary School and then to Honby Elementary School, which is now part of the Sulphur Springs Union School District as Canyon Springs Community School.

She then briefly moved to the district office as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) and a project coordinator where she studied the district’s programs and the state’s education laws.

Her hard work was awarded in 1991 when she was named principal of Cedarcreek Elementary School, where she worked to raise the school’s performance as the district’s only Title 1 School at the time.

“I took that school to a California Distinguished School status and put up that plaque as I left.  That was quite the accomplishment,” Lucid said.  “We really made a difference for our kids and it was a great team effort.”

Saugus Union School District Teacher of the Year Maria Blue (left) with Saugus Union School District Joan Lucid (right) following her recognition. Facebook photo

Six years later, Lucid was promoted to the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, where she implemented state standards, transitioned to the STAAR testing program and facilitated the first district-wide textbook adoption.

“I worked with our teachers and our administrators to getting everybody with the same textbooks,” Lucid said.  “We had a common adoption across the district.”

Lucid remained in this role until May 2011, when she was named superintendent by the district’s Governing Board.

Role as Superintendent

As superintendent, Lucid’s driving goal was always to choose what was best for the students and the staff.

“I’ve had such nice emails and words spoken that are just really near and dear.  When someone tells you how much you’ve touched their life or how much you’ve really given the opportunity to do something,” Lucid said.  “That’s part of the leadership is providing opportunities to others.”

In her role, Lucid also promoted a district culture of collaboration, as site administrators, district staff and parent groups provide input on the direction of the district and the implementation of its programs.

“We really do great job in providing great professional development and having people feel they are valued and that they really are part of a team,” Lucid said.  “We do it together, no one can do what all of us do by themselves.  I think that team effort makes such a difference.”

It is this encouragement of teamwork that brought new programs like Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) and Circle of Friends to the district.

Regan Lowry, 10, and Alecxis Jallorina, 11, laugh as they work on pointallism paintings of trees at the Highlands Elementary after school art program on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/Signal

“It’s about being able to listen and see where things fit… and ask if it is something that is integrated and is going to benefit the large group,” Lucid said.  “I don’t find these programs on my own.  I’m blessed to work with amazing professionals who are out there in their own area of expertise and they come back and say this has what got some good traction and then we look [at them] holistically.”

But Lucid deserves her own credit as well.  As Superintendent, she led the charge to add more arts and technology in the district’s classrooms.

“In the last seven years we passed Measure EE so we were able to do all of the upgrades and the modernizations in the buildings and the technology that we need,” Lucid said.

Now, each classroom has an interactive flat panel and each student can access a Google Chromebook during their instruction time.

This change allowed classes to become more engaging and visual, as teachers work together to write lesson plans that integrate technology instead of isolating it.

“We want to make sure we are supporting our teachers to use the best technology and have access to the newest of instructional methodologies and strategies,” Lucid said.

Katherine Chen, 8, left, codes on the computer with Sophie Lewis, 8, as Logan Martin sits in the background, at Bridgeport Elementary School on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Statistics indicate women are 10 percent more likely to go into programming if they’re exposed to it in school. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

It also promoted equity across school sites and across student groups, providing each child with the same opportunities to learn and to grow.

“One of the things we’ve done is some standardization that there’s more equity,” Lucid said.  “It isn’t a matter of which schools have the PTA dollars to make that happen.  It’s about what is it that our teachers need to provide the best instruction and then how do we go about making sure that happens.”

Legacy in SUSD

In all of her roles—from teacher to superintendent—Lucid looked beyond just test scores and chose to evaluate the whole child.

“From my mind’s eye education is the greatest equalizer in the world.  The better educated people are, the most opportunities they have available to them and that’s our job,” Lucid said.  “Our job is to make sure that child can read, that child can do math, that child understands the civic process, that child has the understanding of what it means to be a scientist and then also has an appreciation for the arts.”

Bridgeport Elementary students walk to their classrooms on the first day of school on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

To promote the educational, emotional, social, physical and moral aspects of each child, Lucid focused on equity among school sites, student groups and teachers, and remained true to her principles to always choose what was best for each student.

“Of anything, that’s been a real important part to make sure we have equity of resources, equity in terms of what we’re able to provide for our kids, that every teacher has a set of tools that they have access to,” Lucid said.  “I want people to remember that I cared about the kids, that the kids were really important to me, and that ultimately I’d move heaven and earth for them.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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