At the end of Tuesday, June 30, 2020, George E. Stone, Ed.D. called it a day.
After 10 years as Superintendent of Lakeland Central School District, Dr. Stone felt fulfilled enough in what he had accomplished during his tenure to also call it a decade, as he moves on to spend time with his grandkids, dabble in journalism, entertain business opportunities, and undoubtedly keep moving to the beat of his own drum.
Gracious as ever, Dr. Stone amiably agreed to spend time with us as he looked back at his career and looks to what lay ahead.
River Journal: Any immediate plans?
George Stone: My plan is to not think about what everybody has to be thinking about this fall. I don’t envy the challenges they’re facing. I never expected the end of this year to be the most intensive period of my career. It’s been non-stop, 24/7. I’ll take some time to decompress. We have a beach home in Maryland where we’re going to stay. I have five grandkids I want to spend time with. I’ve been offered opportunities for consulting and business roles. I’d like to start writing, working for a paper or website.
RJ: What do you see happening with students come the fall?
GS: I don’t foresee them coming back full blown like last September. I think it has to be a hybrid, rotating students in and out, with split sessions, figuring out how to pay for that, and how to do both in-person and online classes.
RJ: Before you were hired by Lakeland, your life and career was centered in other states. How does your New York experience compare?
GS: My family’s from Brooklyn, but I was born in Washington, D.C., and spent most of my career in Delaware. I’ve worked in four systems in four states, and the education we provide here is far superior to anywhere I’ve been. I had interviewed in two other places, and I am so glad I ended up here. I couldn’t have asked for a better district. Lakeland is a unique, very special place, with a diverse population and very talented kids and dedicated staff, and a very supportive community. You pay lot here, and you get a lot.
RJ: Dr. Brendan Lyons is your successor as superintendent. Were you involved in the hiring process?
GS: That’s one thing I wanted to stay out of. In my experience, it’s not a good idea. I knew a lot of the candidates. If it works out well, it’s great, if it doesn’t work out well, then it’s on you. I know Brendan, he’s well-rounded. He should do fine.
RJ: With benefit of hindsight, is there anything you would have done different?
GS: I always try to do my best and treat everybody with respect. I try to be honest and ethical in whatever I do.
RJ: What are you most proud of during your tenure here?
GS: The reputation of Lakeland has really grown, by putting our core beliefs first. I’ve enjoyed seeing things that rose to the top, like respect, kindness, accountability, responsibility, honesty, and ethical behavior — all of them more important than even academic achievement. There have been so many successful honors — in sports, arts, academics — we raised the bar.
RJ: Almost as much as your education chops, you also are a local celebrity for fronting a rock ‘n’ roll cover band — with the great name Unfunded Mandate — that played a lot of fundraisers. What are your music plans — any world tours?
GS: I will sorely miss that experience. It helped balance my life quite a bit, but if there are gigs here, I would be happy to come back and play any kind of function with the guys here. Doing that also helped make a statement that we really support the arts. So many of our alumni have gone on to exceptional careers in that field, including one in the cast of Hamilton.
RJ: Farewell thoughts?
GS: This is definitely the best run of my career. It’s been wonderful working here. I love this place. Gonna miss it.
The sentiment is mutual.
Bruce Apar is Editor + Associate Publisher of River Journal North.