Lori Stussie retiring after 32-year tenure, 18 years at Lawrence High


Maeslyn Hamlin

Veteran Chesty Lion Lori Stussie stands in front of her collage board, covered with pictures and letters from former students.

By Jack Ritter, Co-Editor-in-Chief of LHSBudget.com

Whether someone was in Stuco, volleyball, National Honor Society or needed a strong, dependable person to talk to, students at Lawrence High over the past 18 years have gone to Lori Stussie.

The former English teacher turned volleyball coach and counselor, who has been a shoulder to lean on for many Chesty Lions, is retiring in May, and it is the people who came to her in need that she will regret leaving the most.

“Definitely the students,” Stussie said when asked what she’ll miss. “The school spirit, tradition, band, choir, sports. Just everything.” 

Stussie, who also worked at South Junior High and Lawrence Alternative School, “slid off the hill,” in her own words, meaning she went straight from the University of Kansas to USD 497.

“I’m not leaving because I don’t want to be at Lawrence High,” Stussie said. “I feel a great passion and love for Lawrence High School. It has been my identity for as long as I’ve been an educator.”

The reasons for retirement are relatively straightforward in her eyes: she wants to support and love her family as much as possible.

“It was a financial decision,” Stussie said. “My incentive for leaving this year will be higher than next year. I don’t want to start paying the district back. My youngest will be a senior at Nebraska, and, especially after COVID, I want to be able to see him and my family without putting stress on my coworkers to cover my off days.”

All three of Stussie’s children passed through Lawrence Public Schools and LHS, which has played an integral role in her connection with Lawrence High.

“It’s like family,” she said. “The faculty is so supportive. We stick together through the bad times and the good times.”

The feeling from other faculty members is mutual.

“I am grateful to have been able to work with Lori for as many years as I have,” history teacher Valerie Schrag said. “She has the heart of a Chesty Lion and always wants to do what is best for our students. I have also had the honor of teaching her sons. She is a phenomenal mom, teacher, counselor and Chesty Lion.” 

Stephanie Scarborough, head volleyball coach, brought Stussie onto her staff 16 years ago, during which time the team won a state championship and had many successful seasons.

“I can’t imagine not coaching with her,” Scarborough said. “She does so much for this school. She will be impossible to replace. Thankfully she’s in my family for life.”

One constant Stussie has noticed throughout her tenure is the school’s culture.

“The spirit and tradition of being the one and only Chesty Lion in the country,” she said. “Some people count down the days to retirement; that’s not me. It’s bittersweet.

“There is no other high school I’d rather work in. I’m glad I get to spend my last year at Lawrence High School.”