By Samantha Stuefer
Lincoln High Principal Dr. Michael Wortman has seen a lot in our school during the 20 years he’s been here. He’s seen students come and go, he’s seen renovation, and he’s even seen our school set on fire. And through all of this, he has loved it, but now he has decided to retire.
“Oh, I don’t have any one particular [favorite memory],” Wortman said. “I have enjoyed spending time with students and staff and parents and getting to know them and working together to help students graduate; to help students have success; to help students be involved with what’s happening at Lincoln High but to also prepare them [students] for the future.”
Since 1995, Wortman has been our principal.
He has seen the Freshman class introduced to high school, saw our 100-year-old building undergo construction done for 3 years, and most importantly, has seen students grow and be on their way out of here. Whether it be mingling around in the halls, attending student’s extracurricular activities like sports and music, or helping plan big events for the school, Dr. Wortman is always a part of the action here at Lincoln High.
Before Wortman became our principal, he did many other things. He used to do student teaching to be a math teacher at Lincoln High. After his student teaching, he pursued his career to be a math teacher for a few years at St. Annes High School in Lexington, Nebraska.
“I worked for 2 years in a program on the university campus,” Wortman said. “I was an assistant director one year and director the next year.” The program he was a part of dealt with migrant families, some even being high school dropouts, and he helped them get on the right track and have a successful life.
Ultimately, Wortman became a principal. He was a principal at two other high schools before he came to Lincoln High School. The first high school he was a principal at was Valley High School in Nebraska, then he moved to Hutchinson, Kansas and was a principal at a high school there. Then he came to our school.
Wortman also loved being involved in students’ lives and activities outside of school.
“Whether it’s being at athletic events, concerts or other performance groups; whether it’s being in the cafeteria at lunchtime, at prom or mingling, talking and planning for things that are coming up to make sure that they are successful and all those kinds of things,” Wortman said.
“Dr. Wortman lives and breathes LHS,” Associate Principal and future LHS principal Mark Larson, said. “He is at almost every game, play, or event. His presence and his involvement in these things was very important to students and parents. Dr. Wortman has always been a great listener. Whether it was the superintendent or a freshman, Dr. Wortman made whoever he was with feel important. That is something I hope to emulate.”
Larson also went on to say that he will miss Wortman’s infamous Twizzlers and unending knowledge about LHS and its history.
Many will miss Wortman, but he will also be missing us.
“Well, I think part of it’s just the daily routine of being around people and being part of a team to help problem-solve and to help figure out and to help plan for events that are happening,” Worman said. “But mainly it’s just the connections with people and getting to know people. I see former students all over when I’m around town whether they’re at a store or at some event. In some cases we have former students coming back [to Lincoln High] or parents of students here at Lincoln High and that’s always fun.”
Wortman said that he wishes there were ways to help students take the success they’ve accomplished, and raise it one level higher. But sometimes, the help he gives students won’t get through.
“I wish that we could figure out ways to help all students be successful,” Wortman said.
After Wortman retires, he plans to spend more time with his four grandchildren, and maybe even do some travelling now that he’s got spare time to do so.
“I think a lot of good things have happened,” Wortman said. “A lot of good students have been through Lincoln High for many years before I was here, and while I was here, and will continue to even after I’m gone.”