The Octagon

Middle school head reflects on 18 years of laughter, trips

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Shimin Zhang
Head of middle school Sandy Lyon

Head of middle school Sandy Lyon is retiring after 18 years at Country Day, 11 as head of middle school and roughly 14 as a seventh grade history teacher. Two of her children graduated from the school: Kelsey, ’04, and Grant, ’02.

 

Q: What are you going to miss?

A: I think you always miss people more than you miss a building or a place – so the people that I work with.
I love to laugh, and I can remember times when kids would get me laughing in class and I couldn’t stop! I like to do fun things in the classroom.

 

Q: What are some of your favorite memories?

A: Last year I told my seventh grade class they’d get an A if they rooted for (the University of California, Los Angeles). I don’t know if they went home and cheered for UCLA, (though)!

(I also remember) the trips to Europe that I took a lot of students on over the years – we went to many different places: Italy, France, Switzerland, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria (to name a few).

And trips to D.C. One year we hit a storm on the way home, and it was super scary. A few girls screamed when the plane dipped. We couldn’t land in Houston to switch planes, so they sent us back to New Orleans, where we refueled and then headed back to Houston. By the time we got there we’d missed our connecting flight, so at 3 a.m. they bussed us to a hotel. We slept about two hours and went back to the airport. Although it was a long night, we stayed together and had an adventure.

You know, spending quality time with the kids. I’ll miss those things.

I will (also) miss the strong team I had with Barbara Johnson (who died last year). I love my new assistant but also miss Barbara. She helped me in so many ways (with) anticipating the next event to arise and knew everything about the school. She could laugh with me in many situations and helped me edit things at times. I relied on her strength and knowledge a lot.

 

Q: What are your plans after retirement?

A: You know, a lot of people ask me that. In fact, everybody asks me that. I don’t have specific plans right now. I’ll continue to work in some form because I think that’s important for human beings, to keep their minds active and have a sense of purpose in their lives.

I’m also a big reader, so the time to read is appealing.

 

Q: Are you going to continue to be involved at Country Day?

A: We have book club in the middle school that includes people that are no longer in the school, so I’ll stay active in that – see people still and come back.

I still will have (junior) Yelin (Mao) living with me next year. He graduates in a year. So I’ll be around.

 

Originally published in the June 6 edition of the Octagon.

—By Sahej Claire

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