Former Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Stan Scheer passed away on Dec. 13, leaving behind a legacy as a generous leader who steered the district through tumultuous times with a steady hand.
Scheer, 77, died of COVID-19, just days after his beloved wife Marian, 82, also died from the virus that has now taken more than 300,000 American lives. The couple lived in Windsor, in northern Colorado.
Scheer led the district from 1999 to 2006, an era when Littleton Public Schools was finding a path forward after a decade of political turmoil, recalled Scott Murphy, who succeeded Scheer as superintendent.
“Stan brought us back together,” said Murphy, who as the district’s director of operations sat on the committee that hired Scheer. “He was a great communicator. His eyes didn’t wander as you spoke. He was focused on you and only you.”
Though Scheer was a gregarious man who loved golf and travel, Murphy said Scheer approached the job of superintendent more as a lifestyle than a career.
“He’d go home for dinner, then he would head back out to school plays, sports games, whatever events were going on. He was there.”
Many moments stand out in Murphy’s memories of Scheer, like the time a maintenance crew member was hospitalized with a heart problem.
“Stan didn’t know this guy from Adam, but as soon as he heard, we were on our way to the hospital to visit him,” Murphy said. “It wasn’t to get a pat on the back. He didn’t tell anyone. He just wanted to be there for someone in his organization.”
Other moments stood out: on snowy mornings, Scheer would show up at the district’s bus barn before dawn with a box of doughnuts for drivers about to head out. Scheer would sometimes fill in as a substitute teacher, making sure he stayed grounded in what teacher’s daily lives were like.
Scheer and Marian were a true love story, Murphy remembered.
“She was his strength when times got tough,” he said. “It can be lonely at the top. You have to understand you’re the captain of the ship, and people are looking to you for answers, for guidance. In those times, she was there for him.”
Husband and wife were both military veterans, Murphy recalled, adding that Marian would often visit schools on Veterans Day in uniform, and would lead educational programs for students.
Murphy said Scheer told him he came from a rough and troubled childhood in Wyoming, and said teachers were the first ones to see his potential, giving him direction lacking in his home life.
Even long after he left the district, Scheer stayed connected to his former colleagues.
Murphy was serving as the district’s superintendent in December 2013, when a student gunman killed classmate Claire Davis at Arapahoe High School before taking his own life.
“Stan was the first one who called me,” Murphy remembered. “He was the first one to check on me, to make sure I was OK. He gave me space, but I always felt like he was with me.”
Born in Flint, Michigan, Scheer grew up in Wyoming, according to a report in the Loveland Reporter-Herald. He and his wife were both Army veterans. Before coming to Littleton, Scheer worked in school finance in Wyoming and led school districts in Missouri.
Former school board member Mary McGlone remembered Scheer as a blessing to a district seeking direction.
“Stan was the rare combination of brains and heart,” McGlone said. “He sought out the district’s critics and found ways to bring them into the fold. When he first got here, he spent months just meeting with people: teachers, district staff, everyone. He made parents feel like they had something to contribute.”
Scheer led the charge for district programs that continue today: the Voyager program, which gives high school students access to courses at Arapahoe Community College, and the Phoenix program, which provides counseling and educational assistance to students otherwise headed toward expulsion.
Scheer also pioneered the district’s restorative justice program, which gives students the chance to repair interpersonal relationships strained by bad behavior.
“Those were big deals,” McGlone said. “We kept kids in school we might otherwise have lost.”
Scheer also substantially boosted how the district marked Veterans Day, McGlone recalled.
“It’s a big deal at LPS, and it wasn’t before him,” she said. “Every Veterans Day, he found a way for every school get educated about veterans and remember their sacrifice, everything from choir concerts at the elementary level to meaningful conversations at the high school level. It was about more than just parents and grandparents. He would bring in community members who served.”
Like Murphy, McGlone holds many fond memories of Scheer.
She recalled his habit of taping a $100 bill beneath a random chair at every graduation ceremony, and his practice of holding private graduation ceremonies for students whose disabilities prevented them from attending regular graduations.
After leaving LPS, Scheer went on to lead a southern California school district, and finished his career in 2018 at the Thompson Valley School District in northern Colorado.
He and Marian leave behind five children and 13 grandchildren.
McGlone said Scheer’s death from COVID-19 is a sobering and tragic moment.
“This is happening to thousands of families every day,” she said.
Murphy echoed McGlone.
“To understand this moment, this era we’re living through, we have to understand the loss to our world,” Murphy said. “We have to get through this, get past this. We have to take this seriously.”
As for Stan and Marian Scheer, though, Murphy said they have gone to their reward.
“I’m sure they’re standing at the pearly gates,” Murphy said. “And the angel is saying ‘I hope you brought your golf clubs.’”
The Littleton Public Schools Foundation is collecting funds in Scheer's honor, which will be added to the foundation's Legacy Fund that directly supports children in the district. Click here to donate.
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