Time and time again, Brian Lumar has sharpened his leadership skills be it as an athlete, a coach, an educator or an administrator.
That may, in fact, be why the Hahnville High School principal shows comfort and confidence in his current role as a key leader as teachers and students return to school for the first time since March 13. It’s a great responsibility he doesn’t take lightly, both with respect to the safety of his students and staff and the importance of the Hahnville’s role in the lives of its students and their families.
“Aside from a child’s home, no other setting has more influence on a child’s health and well-being than school,” Lumar said. “It was so important to get underway from an instructional standpoint. The development of social and emotional needs is so vital for students, the nutritional needs … even something as small as promoting physical activity. And every day we aren’t here, they’re missing out on that.
“At the same time, the most important piece of all of this is ensuring you’re providing a safe and supportive enviornment for not just students, but your entire faculty and staff as well.”
Hahnville students began returning to school last Thursday. Lumar said it’s been a smooth transition.
“It’s been fabulous,” he said. “We’re so excited to have our students back. Our faculty and staff have been wonderful, the students have been wonderful … everyone’s adhering to all of the guidelines set forth by the CDC, the Louisiana Department of Education. So many people have come together to make this work.”
Lumar is in his fourth year as Hahnville principal after stepping into the position in 2017. The promotion from his previous position as assistant principal made him the first African-American principal in HHS history.
But long before taking his current job on, Lumar was long synonymous with Hahnville. This is his 20th year with the school, starting his journey with the Purple and Gold as head coach of the Tigers’ boys basketball program after a very successful run as an assistant coach at Shaw, his alma mater.
At Shaw, he learned what it took to guide a prep team to a deep playoff run, and he applied what he learned when he had the opportunity to head a program of his own. Under Lumar, Hahnville reached the Class 5A state championship game twice, in 2003 and 2009.
Soon after the 2009 run, Lumar transitioned his focus to a new area: educational leadership. He felt he could better reach a greater number of youths in the classroom and through school administration. It led him on a path to eventually become Hahnville principal.
He was also a decorated athlete in his days on the basketball court. Lumar is a two-time inductee into Loyola University’s Wolfpack Athletics Hall of Fame, first for his individual accomplishments as the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, and later as a member of the 1994-95 men’s Wolfpack squad that won the Southwestern Regional Championship in NAIA competition. That team represented a critical step forward for a program that had recently reestablished itself after the cancellation of school athletics in 1971. It did not have the scholarship athletes or experienced players of opponents that year, but went down to be known as one of the greatest teams in school history.
“We had a great group of guys that worked together giving a tremendous amount of effort and always was mentally tough,” said Lumar, who was the youngest athlete to be inducted into the Loyola Hall. “Our motto was ‘Play hard, play smart and play together.’”
Much of his success, he says, comes down to the willingness to prepare for the moment.
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” Lumar said of his philosophy, one he says the parish’s school district showed in the months leading up to the reopening of school. “We know there’s no perfect script during these unprecidented times … but I feel the planning efforts were really second to none. Everyone, from teachers, to custodians, to food service … some people may have taken them for granted, but it’s very easy to see the vital role everyone plays. And we all have the same goal in mind, to enrich the lives of young children.”