Chet Laubach

I always thought that Sean treated me the way he did because he and I were longtime friends. But it turns out he treats everybody that way.

Chet+Laubach

I was fortunate enough to have Sean be my first work friend when I started teaching at LM back in 1998.

I am in a unique position because I knew Sean when we were professional peers, when he was the Athletic Director and I was a coach, when he was an Assistant Principal, and then, for the last fourteen years, as the Principal of LM.

On Monday, November 15, schools were closed and we had a voluntary faculty meeting led by our administrative team. They shared stories themselves and then allowed us to stand up and share some thoughts and stories about Sean. Hearing my colleagues and friends’ stories about Sean and what he meant to them was gut-wrenching, raw, and hilarious at the same time. Sean meant so much to so many people. I would love to recap each one of the stories, but time cuts me short. However, the common thread of these stories was that Sean cared deeply for each one of us and was always looking out for teachers and students first and foremost. I always thought that Sean treated me the way he did because he and I were longtime friends. But it turns out he treats everybody that way.

I heard a great story about Sean from one of his mentors and someone he really admired—retired Athletic Director Tom McGovern. I think this story really encapsulates Sean. Before Sean came to LM, he had taught at Saint John Neumann Catholic High School in South Philadelphia. Shortly after Sean arrived at LM, Tom interviewed him for the Assistant Athletic Director job and explained the long hours, cumbersome schedule, and thankless workload the job entailed. Sean accepted the job immediately, shook Tom’s hand, and walked out of the room. Tom stopped him and asked, “Sean, don’t you want to know how much you’re getting paid?” And Sean responded incredulously, in only the way he can: “You mean I am gonna get paid money for this?!!”

Sean’s only fault was that he was a great guy. In reality, he probably could have made things easier or been more efficient with them if he could just be “mean” sometimes. But in his DNA, Sean was just not capable of that.

More than anyone I have ever known, Sean had an appreciation and respect for people with different backgrounds, interests, and passions. He cared deeply about all people. Moving forward, I think we can all honor Mr. Hughes’s legacy by being friendly, caring, empathetic, and accepting of people, even when it’s most difficult. “Character Counts” was not just a saying for Sean—he truly lived it. If we had more people with the character of Sean Hughes in this world, I think the world would be a better place. We lost a great educator, a great leader, a great mentor, and, most importantly, a great friend.

Sean Hughes (row 3, center right) in his inaugural year at LM (1998), alongside Chet Laubach (row 3, far left) and Peter Dawson (row 2, far right). | Photo courtesy of LMSD Office of School and Community Relations
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