The new superintendent for the Papillion-La Vista School District didn’t want his wife to know that he brought his lava lamp from college to his office.
“She thinks it’s the tackiest thing in the world, but I love it,” Andy Rikli said. “I’ve always thought that lava lamps are really relaxing to watch. ... My wife thinks they’re the ugliest things possible.”
Rikli, who started his new position Monday, also unpacked pictures of his family, Husker memorabilia and model ships to decorate his office at the Papillion-La Vista schools central office.
Rikli’s family — his wife Amy and three children, Adrianna, Meridith and Sam — will move to a neighborhood near Shadow Lake Towne Center. His daughters will attend Bell Elementary School.
The district’s new leader spent the afternoon meeting with employees and reaffirmed his stance on being highly visible.
“One of my goals has been to be as visible as I can, not only in this building, but out of this building,” he said.
Rikli said his main focuses will remain early childhood education, instructional technology and world languages, but wouldn’t do so until he plans further with the school board.
“The last thing in the world that I want to do is come and impose a plan – a set of goals – without understanding what we do as a school district,” he said. “So I think this first year is going to be truly learning what we do well, working with the school board to craft goals around that and then moving forward from there.”
Rikli said district employees showed overwhelming support of his presence as superintendent.
“One of the really desirable parts of this job is figuring out what I don’t know,” he said. “As a member of the community, as a member of the staff, I can’t wait to learn as much as I can in the next several months.”
Moving forward, Rikli also will keep a sharp eye on the Learning Community and its effects on the school district.
“What I found in my conversations with a number of people in the last two months though is that there are still ongoing boundary issues within the Learning Community,” he said. “As cities such as Papillion and La Vista continue to grow, our availability to grow along with the city as a school district has been effectively nullified by the Learning Community.”