Lee leaving THS for Missouri’s Park Hill
Tonganoxie athletics director John Lee is going home.
Well, actually, three blocks from home.
Lee has accepted a teaching position at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.
The school is about three blocks from his home, which will be a much shorter commute than his jaunt to Tonganoxie, which is about 30 to 35 minutes.
A teacher in Tonganoxie for eight years, Lee cited family his wife, Terri, and three children as the reason for leaving.
"The only school district I would have left Tonganoxie for would have been Park Hill," Lee said. "It was a no-brainer because of family and proximity."
Lee will teach a study skills class, much like Sue Walker's at-risk teaching position at Tonganoxie High School. Lee is expected to be the freshman girls basketball coach, although he could become the assistant varsity/head junior varsity coach instead. The current assistant coach is seeking a college position.
The stint at Tonganoxie is Lee's first since graduating from Baker University in Baldwin.
While in Tonganoxie, the Lawrence native coached junior varsity and freshman football, and also was the girls varsity basketball coach for three years.
For the last two years, he's been the varsity baseball coach.
In the classroom, Lee taught science and some social studies at the junior high level in his first four years before becoming the athletics director four years ago. Since then, he has taught physical education classes.
The move to the Missouri school signals an adjustment in school size. Park Hill has an enrollment of roughly 1,400 compared to Tonganoxie's 376.
The school district must now look for another athletics director. Superintendent Richard Erickson said he wanted to move swiftly in finding a replacement.
"I think I would like to see us move pretty quickly," Erickson said. "Obviously we have some positions to fill in our coaching ranks."
Erickson said he hopes the district can name a new director with the next two months.
Lee's departure means the school also will be searching for a new baseball coach.
Erickson said Lee would be missed.
"He's contributed an awful lot to the school district the last eight years," Erickson said. "I wish him the very, very best."
Although Lee didn't rule out taking a head coaching position in the future, he said he would welcome being an assistant, at least for now.
He said he didn't regret his commute during the last five years.
Lee lived in Lawrence during his first three years with the Tonganoxie district. But he's looking forward to cutting his time on the road.
"I'll enjoy leaving school at 3 and being at home with my family at 3:02," Lee said.