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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lumberton School Principal Retires After 18 Years of Service

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Suzanne Hammons
Suzanne Hammonshttp://dioceseofgallup.org
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.
Madeline Lyon, in red, with Bishop Wall and St. Francis faculty in 2014.

After 11 years, Madeline Lyon has retired as the principal of St. Francis School in Lumberton, NM.

Lyon, 82, worked at St. Francis School for a total of 18 years – first as a teacher, then as principal, and as the president of the school board for four years. She can enjoy her retirement with the knowledge that her successors, co-principals Aude Isimbi and Elena Talamante, are well-equipped to guide the school for the foreseeable future.

“We really needed new blood. We needed youth and we’ve got it,” Lyon said. “They’re enthusiastic, they’re positive thinkers. And they work together well. I think we’re in the age of teamwork, rather than opposed to just one person managing everything.”

Lumberton is located in rural northern New Mexico, about 15 minutes from the Colorado border. The school, which mainly serves families of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, faces many of the same obstacles as other diocesan schools.

Lumberton’s parish, St. Francis, located on the school campus.

“There were two challenges basically and I knew that going in. One was staffing – and everybody has that problem now – and financing.”

But thanks to generous donors and grantors, the school has kept its doors open.

“When the teacher housing was built, we had a brand-new facility with 10 bedrooms and it was donated completely, so it didn’t cost us anything. That was a major accomplishment. Another accomplishment was saving one of the outdoor classrooms by adding a new roof, and it’s slanted [now] so that snow would fall off and a custodian no longer had to get up there and shovel the snow off the roof.”

For Lyon, these challenges were worth confronting, because through Catholic education, the school provides a necessary service to the community.

“One of the things that we wanted to give our students was the knowledge and the understanding that they could make choices that would benefit them,” Lyon said. “And that was mostly because of the alcohol issues. And it’s not just any reservations, it’s all over. And just that they could make choices – not that were self-serving, but that help them to grow as people.”

Now that she’s fully retired, Lyon is looking forward to traveling more, and to connecting with family and friends who are scattered across the country. But she has some final advice for her successors, and all others working in Catholic education.

“Stay positive. We can learn from adversity. We can learn from our challenges, but always stay positive no matter what’s happening. And because the Holy Spirit is involved in our schools, they will survive because it isn’t totally up to us, we humans.”

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