Janesville28.1°

'A superintendent’s dream'

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Mike DuPre'
January 20, 2008
— Ken Luety ran for the Clinton School Board “for the wrong reasons,” he said.

“They were proposing a referendum then, and I didn’t think we needed to spend the money.”


That was 13 years and several rotating board presidencies ago.


Luety’s involvement taught him that the school system had changed since he graduated from Clinton High School and what had been good enough for him was not good enough for today’s students.


“I found out I wasn’t near as smart as I thought I was—and we find that out every day,” Luety said.


The traditional nuclear family—mom, dad and kids—which was the norm in Luety’s school days, now might be a split or blended family.


“That makes our challenges different,” he said. “It’s hard enough to teach a kid who comes from a traditional family. Those kids will stub their toes, but they have a traditional home as a base.


“Life is so fast-paced today that it’s hard for kids to get their school work done in families that are not traditional.”


Luety tries to keep with the pace. Besides working with the school board, he’s also a farmer.


He manages to get his work done on Cabin Creek Farms with one full-time employee and plenty of part-time seasonal help. The family farm consists of 350 acres owned by the Luetys, another 3,650 acres under lease, about 65 Angus beef cattle and about 25 swine raised as show pigs.


Luety plants most of the acreage in corn and soybeans.


And the Luety family has roots running deep in education. Luety’s wife, Marcia, teaches special education at Clinton High School and one of his daughters, Stacey O’Leary, teaches in Marshall.


Luety said of students:


“All these kids are going to be our future, so we need to put in the best effort we can while they are in our schools. … What I’ve slowly figured out is that we need these kids to not turn out like us but to be better.”


Luety’s efforts on the school board are respected and appreciated, said Pam Kiefert, Clinton schools superintendent.


“He’s a superintendent’s dream as board president because he’s extremely well informed and keeps the discussion very well balanced,” she said.


Luety is “wonderful, friendly and warm,” Kiefert said. “He’s somebody you can trust. He genuinely cares about what happens to the community.”


And Luety appreciates the community he lives in.


“The part I enjoy is talking to people, whether it’s on the street, in coffee shops or wherever you meet them to find out what they’re thinking,” he said. “I’m really proud of our school district. When I first got on the board, I was questioning as you should be.”


But after two or three years, “I saw the need,” Luety said. “I actually had a good friend who didn’t talk to me for a while because I was slow to come around.”


That good friend is Mirjam Melin, who now says of Luety:


“He came with an agenda of not building a new high school, not seeing the need … but he was able to see he was wrong. He was big enough to admit he was wrong, and he became a great asset in successfully completing the project.


“It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong.”


KEN LUETY
Age: 50.
Community: Clinton.
Occupation: Farmer.
Family: Wife, Marcia. Three children, Stacey O’Leary, 24; Paul Luety, 22; Ali Luety, 12.
Favorite reading: “National Geographic, front to back, and I read best-sellers in the winter.”
Favorite movie: “I never go to movies. I like to follow the Packers.”
Favorite food: “Steak, certified Angus, medium, with a baked potato.”
Favorite music: Old rock ‘n’ roll, especially George Thorogood, and any country.
Would like to have dinner with: His father, Paul; Vince Lombardi and Abraham Lincoln.

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