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Les Loomis looks back on leadership

Dedication. Commitment. Excellence. Honor.

These are the words that Superintendent Les G. Loomis has espoused over the past 21 years, and in the process, the words he has come to embody and instill into the very spirit of the Bethlehem Central School District.

After a lifetime of transforming his love of learning into a love of teaching, and eventually to a love of leading, Loomis is ready to pass the torch in Bethlehem and start a new chapter of his life in Cape Cod.

In an area where superintendents seem to move on after three, four or five years, Loomis has weathered the political and economic climates of the past two decades in the Capital District with a style and grace unrivaled in terms of leadership, compassion, and know-how.

His colleagues will be the first to tell you that Loomis is a favorite target of criticism, and although his leadership is frequently praised, his decisions are not always met with the enthusiasm of a homecoming parade. More often than not, it seems it's more like the type of enthusiasm that includes pitchforks and torches.

Loomis is best known in the community for standing by the decisions he thinks are right for the district and also for standing by his staff as those decisions are implemented. A talented and passionate some would also say lengthy orator, Loomis is quick to lavish praise where he finds excellence and just as quick to point out mediocrity when it's discovered.

The love of teaching that lured him into his life's work was revealed in the most unlikely of places: Columbia.

"I was in the Peace Corps in Columbia and I started teaching there, actually two Columbian street kids in a reform school, and I loved teaching so that was the beginning of my career in education," Loomis said.

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