Todd Lyscio began his 30th year in education at Crosslake Community School (CCS) this year as he took over as superintendent, executive director and K-8 principal of the charter school, which began classes Aug. 27.
Lyscio was formerly a classroom teacher and counselor, and he spent 16 years at Franklin Junior High School in Brainerd. He also spent part of his career as high school principal at Staples-Motley. He’s worked as an activities director and community education director in Brainerd, and was the director of the National Joint Powers Alliance in Staples, an education service agency.
He lives in Brainerd, where his wife, Connie, teaches physical education. They have two sons, Tom and Michael.
Lyscio succeeds Tami Martin, former CCS superintendent who resigned to take a position at a district in southern Minnesota.
Lyscio is excited to get back into more direct contact with students at CCS, which has a smaller student body than some of the other schools where he’s worked. He’s intrigued with CCS’s charter school framework.
“The focus here is in a smaller setting,” Lyscio said, adding there’s a strong community feel and a focus on environmental issues.
“With smaller class sizes, we have the ability to personalize education in a way that general schools have trouble doing because of size,” he said.
While this is Lyscio’s first time working at a charter school, he’s pleased with the model.
“There’s some misconception about charter schools, but I think it’s a very good format,” he said.
Lyscio went into education because of the influence educators had on him.
“I saw what they were doing with students; how they influenced my life,” he said.
It wasn’t just teachers, it was also coaches who influenced Lyscio, who was a football and track athlete.
“Those two things seem to go together, teaching and coaching,” he said.
He hopes to make a similar impact on the students at CCS.
“The purpose of charter schools, the reason they came into existence, is really to improve teaching and learning. What I hope we can do is continue to improve on the good work happening here, because I think there’s a lot of it,” Lyscio said.
Lyscio said CCS is working to expand from its current K-8 grades, adding a grades 9-12 option. The hope, he said, is to have a program in place next fall. Plans for the program include a supported online portion on-site at the school, and a portion of the day in an internship-like setting, which could include volunteer or service work.
CCS is also still looking into the option of expansion as its student body grows.
“We’re very fortunate to have the site we do. The questions are how much more remodeling we can do here before we have to do something different,” Lyscio said.
Because CCS is a charter school, it can’t bond or levy for community funding. It’s still publicly funded with tax dollars and lease aid, though. Recently the school’s been looking into finding a new site, perhaps adjacent to the Crosslake Community Center. The city could build and the school could lease that site, Lyscio said.
“What we have to know is, is the city comfortable moving that direction?” Lyscio said, noting that currently the school is in tight quarters.
Outside of his work in education, Lyscio enjoys golfing, skiing and playing guitar. He’s in a band called The District with some of his former co-workers from Brainerd.
“I have been welcomed very warmly,” Lyscio said of his time so far at CCS. He began July 1. “Being here feels really good.
“I’ve discovered a very supportive community, a supportive parent community and a very dedicated staff.”