Kyle Lawhead was drawn to sports and coaching at a young age and lucky for us, he brought that love to UPrep 13 years ago. As the Assistant Director of UPrep’s Middle School, Kyle has taught PE for both the Middle and Upper Schools, served in a number of Middle School leadership positions, including as PE Department Head, and coached baseball, basketball, and volleyball.
What brought you to UPrep?
Sports and activity have always been important to me. I love the game aspect and many of my friendships were fostered through my involvement with sports and playing on teams. My coaches were my role models and I learned a lot from them and looked up to them. So I knew that a career where I could interact with youth and be involved in sports was attractive to me.
I started at UPrep right after I finished my undergrad at Western Washington University. I feel really lucky that it turned out to be a place that fit me and supported my growth. During my time at UPrep, I’ve been encouraged to take on new roles, stretch as a leader, get my master's degree at Seattle University, and move into school administration and leadership.
What have been some of your favorite highlights from the current school year?
There are three highlights that stand out for me. At the beginning of the year, I worked with the students in the Middle School student government to develop a leadership inventory, where they each identified their unique skills and gifts. This was a tool that I used in grad school and it was fun to hear them talk about themselves as leaders and seek to better understand each other and what they each brought to the group. It set a great tone for the year. After they developed the inventory, the students established the norms for how they would work together. Those two activities really helped to make it clear to everyone that they were the leaders and my job was just to support them.
I thought this year’s fall Music Day was special and different from previous years. Our Middle School performers exhibited great courage in sharing their music with their peers and the students in the audience were encouraging and respectful. I was very proud of them.
I’m really looking forward to the next round of Intensives. I thought the January Intensives were successful because they made it possible for students to have extended learning opportunities—inside and outside the classroom. Students were asked to describe their learning process, which was more in depth than taking a final test or completing a project. This spring, as we prepare for the 8th grade Capstone projects, students will engage our broader Seattle community by working with 16 local NGOs committed to education, the environment, and social justice. Students will explore opportunities to have an impact for good in their community.
Who is a leader you admire?
There are two leaders who have been important to me during my career. John Wooden, the longtime basketball coach at UCLA, and my grandfather. Both men are able to connect with people and inspire them.
Early in my career, I was given Coach Wooden’s book, They Call Me Coach. At the time, I didn’t consider myself a leader; I was a new teacher focused on developing my skills and I didn’t yet understand that there are different paths that you can use to connect with students. One of the quotes that stuck with me from Wooden’s book was “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” (Note to our readers, Kyle was well prepared--with typed notes—for our interview!) Another quote that stuck with me from his book was “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” As a middle school administrator, I now try to share these important lessons with my students.
My grandfather is also an important leader to me. He has an incredible ability to connect with people and make them feel special.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Family is really important to me. I have a five-year-old son and two-year old daughter. Weekends are devoted to family time and slowing down our pace. We love to go to the zoo and take long walks with the dog.
To recharge, I like to play golf with family and friends. It’s a time when I can let my guard down, stop thinking, and be outside. One of the things I love about golf is that you never master it—it’s a continual growth game. Golf is something that I did with my dad and hope to do with my kids.