Jon Fadely

Sean Hughes will be remembered as an incredible principal whose efforts made LM what it is today. Rest easy, my friend.

Jon+Fadely

I am so thankful that I had such a close relationship with Sean Hughes over the past 25 years.

Sean Hughes was a History teacher. I was the Adaptive Physical Education teacher for the Pupil Services Department and was part of the Clinical Services team serving all ten LMSD schools. I was fortunate to know all of the LMSD principals at the time.

Sean Hughes loved history. He enjoyed sharing facts and stories about Hap Arnold, Fritz Brennan, Penny Packer Field, and General Becton, just to name a few.

So here is some history. Sean Hughes was the Assistant Athletic Director when I was an assistant coach. He became the Athletic Director while I coached soccer and basketball. Sean became an Assistant Principal and I became a full-time Health and Physical Education teacher and the head soccer coach. Sean then became the Principal of LM and I became the Assistant Athletic Director and then Assistant Principal.

Sean Hughes made history. He was 100 percent invested in the planning and building of the new Lower Merion High School. He was determined to carry history from the old building to the new building and put tremendous thought into the contents of the time capsule. He was determined to save pieces from the oldest gym floor in the district and bring them to the new school to display, along with artwork and lockers from the original locker room. Additionally, he carefully preserved the clock tower from the old building, the old courtyard, and the Downs Gym.

Once in the new LM building, he changed bell schedules to meet the needs of all students. He created Professional Learning Communities to support students and to allow teachers to have meaningful collaboration time. He implemented Lunch and Learn, an initiative that attracted schools from across the state to observe, take note of, and then implement in their own districts. He built a school culture and community where character truly counted! He continued to make and build school spirit with Radnor Spirit Week, Maroon Madness, The Amazing Ace, and the creation of the iconic Lip Dub. Sean even tried to improve student parking, attempting to maximize what little space we had, and giving up his own parking spot to students every year. All decisions he made were for his students’ best interest. He truly believed and instilled in each of us that as LM employees, we were in the customer service business and the students always came first.

Last year, in spite of the pandemic, he was determined to ensure there would be a graduation and a senior prom. There was nothing that was going to stop Sean from making this happen. Most recently, he was under some real heat for having the fall homecoming dance during Radnor Week. Again, Sean made sure the students were not going to miss out on this tradition.

Sean Hughes had an incredible ability to find a person’s strength and empower them to become leaders. Many of those who worked under him in the past rose to assume the mantle of leadership themselves, with two of his Assistant Principals becoming superintendents and numerous others becoming principals and supervisors. Sean built an incredible Faculty Council from which he could hear teacher voices directly, including the department chairs: Brian Mays (English), Chad Henneberry (Social Studies), John Vaccaro (Math), Kevin Ries (Science), Marsha Rosen (Student Services), Heather Van Horn (Special Education), Allie Mellet (World Language), and Russ Loue (Arts). Under his leadership, each of these departments have been enhanced with new classes, new electives, and additional support, along with groundbreaking initiatives like standards-based and quarterless grading. Each of these department chairs were encouraged to come into Sean Hughes’s office with ideas, and he immediately saw their passion and offered support for their propositions to be successful. Sean never led with a top-down mentality. He always was there to support his teachers and knew the most successful programs and ideas came from within and were organic. This was his leadership style with the HSA, the students, and the faculty and staff. Sean loved innovation and considered himself a lifelong learner as well. He wasn’t just a leader, but was a teacher for students and adults. He made everyone a better person.

Sean Hughes was asked many times to take a position in the District Administration Office. He always refused these opportunities and shared that he only wanted to be with the students, faculty, and staff. He had a sense of humor that was infused into his daily life. He never took himself seriously but had an incredible impact upon every person with whom he came into contact. Sean would lighten up when he shared his weekend plans and adventures with his wife Kristi, sons Jack and Nolan, and daughter Kate. His family was his first joy, but the next was always LM. Sean Hughes was a wonderful father, husband, son, and brother. 

Sean Hughes will be remembered as an incredible principal whose efforts made LM what it is today. Rest easy, my friend.

Hughes with his fellow Assistant Principals. | Photo courtesy of LMSD Office of School and Community Relations
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