IDAHO FALLS — Jason Lords was still settling in as principal at Fairview Elementary in 2011 when he received an unexpected phone call — from his “probation officer.”
Confused and a little concerned, the school secretary put the caller on hold.
“Some guy’s on the line and says he’s your probation officer,” she told Lords.
The caller was actually Lords’ older brother, Madison School District’s assistant superintendent Randy Lords, who saw the frolic phone call as proper initiation for his kid brother’s new administrative role.
There are now four Lords brothers employed as school administrators in East Idaho — all within a 50-mile radius:
- Randy Lords, Madison School District assistant superintendent
- Eric Lords, Shelley High School principal (Shelley School District)
- Bryan Lords, Rigby High School principal (Jefferson Joint School District)
- Jason Lords, Rocky Mountain Middle School principal (Bonneville School District)
Picking on each other has been the refrain since childhood, the brothers say. (In grade school, Eric shot Randy with an air-soft gun; Randy got him back by breaking his younger brother’s skin with a dart.)
But their childhood was also laced with tough times.
The brothers grew up in Idaho Falls. Their dad, Randy Sr., worked long hours at the family’s auto supply store, earning roughly $250 per week in 1987.
“People always assume that both of our parents had to have been educators, but they weren’t,” said Randy.
Watching their mom, Dauphne, take on jobs to help make ends meet, the brothers say they had all the motivation they needed to go to college.
The brothers balanced their jobs at the family store with a love for sports, which also steered them toward careers in education.
“I wrestled in college,” said Eric. “When all that came to an end, I had to find something that could keep me in that type of environment.”
They all went on to coach baseball, wrestling and football as teachers.
Education also provided a springboard for continuing a long-running family tradition, one started by their dad when the boys were young.
“Dad just always taught us to treat everyone the same, no matter who they are — and that’s something that is very applicable to a career in education,” said Randy.
The brothers told of a family friend named Gordy, who worked as a special needs employee at an Idaho Falls McDonalds restaurant for decades. When Randy Sr. was in high school, he noticed a few of his peers picking on Gordy and told them to stop.
The episode inaugurated a long-running friendship between the Lords family and Gordy, who died a few years ago.
“I think we would all agree that our philosophy as educators is that all kids can learn and grow,” said Bryan. “Especially the at-risk kids who don’t have as much as others.”
Dauphne and Randy Lords Sr. still live in Idaho Falls and are proud of their sons’ careers as educators.
“I remember calling Randy after his first day as an elementary principal,” said Dauphne. “He told me his favorite part the day was jumping rope with the kindergarteners during recess. That’s the type of administrators all of them are. They can’t stand to be in their offices. They have to be out with the kids.”
These days, the brothers have children of their own and still talk trash at the family barbecues.
Bonneville School District deputy superintendent Marjean McConnell taught the Lords brothers years ago at Fairview Elementary in Idaho Falls. The practical jokes that drew them together as children contribute to their success as educators today, she said.
“These brothers are quality educators and people who want to make a genuine difference in children’s lives,” she said. “I can’t stress enough how much we need more people just like them working in education today.”
Fun facts about the Lords brothers
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in as educators? Eric: I caught a second grader holding some marijuana for a high school student once. Randy: Girl fights — they can get incredibly vicious.
- Which brother was the biggest suck-up to your parents while growing up? Randy, Eric, Jason (collectively): Bryan.
- Why? Eric: He’s just the most needy. (Daphne Lords denies this, saying that “all” her sons are her favorite.)
- Can you respond to that, Bryan? So not true.
- Who’s the toughest brother? Randy, Bryon, Jason (collectively): Eric.
- What do you guys think about the current state of education in Idaho? Randy: Education is at a turning point in Idaho. The state needs to enable districts to have more local control. I would love for more legislators to spend a week in our schools to help do that. Also, I think we all know there is a shortage of teachers in the state.We have to do more to make teaching a respectable, well-paying job.