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Legendary Local: RSM Headmaster Defines Life With School
by: Debbie L. Sklar
Lusby claims the kids are what makes his career worth while.
Lusby claims the kids are what makes his career worth while.

Jim Lusby is the headmaster at St. John's Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita, where he has enjoyed a long career of working with kids for the past 13 years.

What is a headmaster?

“A headmaster is a sort of hybrid of superintendant and principal,” he shares. “Generally speaking, a principal is more focused in his/her responsibilities and spends a good deal of time on academic and faculty management. A headmaster usually is more focused on broad, institutional concerns.”

While he may have dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player as a kid, he says he is more than happy where he is now.

“I took my first job as a teacher when I graduated from college, absolutely loved the work and have stayed in the field of pre-secondary education ever since,” he says.

Lusby’s days are anything but quiet and definitely never the same.

“The day starts with me directing traffic for 30 minutes; I then make the rounds of the school, visiting classrooms and offices until mid-morning. If there is no morning chapel, I move to responding to e-mails and phone messages interspersed with face-to- face appointments with parents and staff. This part of my day runs through lunch and into the mid-afternoon,” he says. “I try to get out to say ‘goodbye’ to the kids as they leave, then return to my office to read and write for the remainder of the day.”

Of course, the best part of his role as headmaster he says is the kids.

“My experiences and relationships with kids have kept my outlook on life current and invigorated. The profession is a decidedly optimistic and hope-filled one,” he says.

On the flipside, there are some occasional challenges like there are in any job.

“Helping parents understand that imperfection and failure are as important as excellence and success in the educational process,” he says.

And do the kids generally like him or are they fearful of getting called down to his office?

“I think they like me but that doesn't remove the stigma of ‘being called to the office,’” he says. “It's an unfortunate aspect of my work that I have children in my office for disciplinary reasons occasionally so this taints the anticipation of any visit by a child.”

Born in Atlanta, and raised in southern New York State in a rural suburb of NYC, Lusby has some words of wisdom for those who might want a career as a headmaster: Stay focused on the children.

His own education consists of a secondary school diploma from St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. He has a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. and a M.Ed. from Boston College.

Lusby’s mentor he says is Archbishop Oscar Romero, but if he had the opportunity to meet anyone in the world, he says it would be President Barack Obama.

“His presidency is a watershed event in the history of the United States,” he says.

Married with two adult children, Lusby likes to read and travel when he isn’t working.

As for his life motto he says: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at

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