If you see a costumed crusader roaming the halls of the Westchester Middle School campus, don’t be alarmed: It is just Tim Lucas, one of Windward’s best examples of inspirational teaching through humor. Using his unorthodox approach, Mr. Lucas uses his sense of whimsy to his advantage, leading his social studies, language arts, and computers classes forward and onward to meet their goals.
His costumes, of course, do not make up the entirety of his wardrobe; rather, they serve as a much-needed reminder for his students that learning can and should be fun. “So, when the students see me in costume, they think, ‘today must be something special.’” For Mr. Lucas, learning is that something special—something to revel in, to be excited about—especially for the many young people who enter Windward with little confidence in their academic abilities. That enthusiasm for education is at the heart of Mr. Lucas’s teaching philosophy.
Engaging students in a way that fosters an authentic zest for learning is not the easiest task. On this, Mr. Lucas would agree, but the determination with which he encourages children to appreciate or even love learning is reflected in the rapport he has developed with his students. He explains, “They feel comfortable asking for help. I think that's a great thing for them, and I think it's a great sign of success for the teacher if the students are that confident.”
Mr. Lucas’s approach is student centric, acknowledging them as individuals and encouraging them to celebrate the diversity that makes up our world. His students learn to become citizens of communities that live and breathe outside of Windward’s four walls. His classes strive to be spaces grounded in openness, accountability, and mutual respect.
Mr. Lucas is, like his students, always a learner, and the constantly evolving landscape of student needs presents new challenges to navigate daily. As a leader, he adapts to the best of his ability, understanding the power in learning together. He and his students learn together, and together they flourish.