We knew that Bob Iden would retire one day, we just couldn’t imagine the announcement.
For the few of you who do not know, Bob Iden is retiring after 32 years in public education, the past 11 years as the beloved principal of Lake Highlands High School. Principals come and go, but few have made a mark and left a legacy in a community to the degree and in the fashion of Bob Iden.
Official records identify the LHHS principal as “Robert Iden, Ed.D.” To everyone (students, staff, parents and community), however, the principal is “Dr. Bob.” That “title” speaks volumes about Bob: This is a man who wants to be your personal, trusted and caring friend.
This does not mean that he shirked his duties as principal of almost 2,000 students. To the contrary, Bob works tirelessly to know his students (and their families) on a personal level so he can better address their talents, needs, expectations, hopes and dreams.
I am convinced that Bob Iden was born to be principal of LHHS. Bob has completed an unparalleled LHHS trifecta — student, teacher and principal. He even left his position as Fredericksburg ISD superintendent to return home to serve as principal. Bob’s heart is as big as this community he cherishes and serves. Dr. Bob wants LHHS to be the same type of school he attended — a school with high expectations and wide-ranging opportunities. Bob loves to recite the accomplishments of LHHS and its graduates, whether they are state and national rankings in academics, sweepstakes awards for fine arts, championships for athletes and teams, recognitions of outstanding teaching, and on and on.
Whenever Bob speaks of LHHS, it is accompanied by his trademark smile, enthusiasm and Wildcat pride. I have countless memories of Bob at LHHS, but several are at the forefront. First is the sight of Bob at graduation. June 7 will mark the ninth time that Bob and I have shared the graduation stage. I am always stunned how Bob knows so many kids’ names and gives them a personal greeting as he shakes their hand. More than 6,000 LHHS alums have received that handshake, and they know that they were fortunate to have Dr. Bob as their principal.
Second is Bob’s “presence”. One of the greatest understatements is that Bob is “involved” with LHHS students and events. Are you kidding? Has he ever missed an event, performance or competition? I wonder if he is not really one of identical triplets. Bob does not just “go” to LHHS events; he is an ardent and vocal supporter, fan and cheerleader (it will be strange to see a game in the Boneyard without Bob pacing the sidelines). Bob has even participated in school performances — his role as the train conductor in “The Music Man” brought down the house.
Finally, Dr. Bob is not just about school, he is about people — he wants his students to be well-rounded and active citizens. As part of that mission, Bob developed the “Character Counts” award, which is presented to a LHHS student each month by the Exchange Club. This is a cherished and prestigious award based upon the six pillars of citizenship: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Dr. Bob embodies each of those characteristics and is a wonderful role model for all of us.
We also owe a special thanks to Catherine Iden. The wife of any high school principal signs on for tough duty, but imagine when your husband is a 24/7 principal who is with his students for all but a few hours each day. hank you, Catherine, for sharing Bob with Lake Highlands — you are an unsung hero.
I know that many of you have personal and lasting memories of Bob Iden, and I encourage you to share those with him, whether it’s via e-mail, a quick hug, a personal note, or a laugh and cry over a cup of coffee. Tell this special man that he is special to you.
The “school of champions” is the epicenter of this community, and that will not change with a new principal. What must also not change is our support of the school and its staff, students, administration and programs. I challenge each of us to contribute to and invest in our schools on a level that would make Bob Iden as proud of his community as we are of him.