Principal Siefker, at left, will have another opportunity to demonstrate his sense of humor when he sees this photo taken with some of his admiring and spirited students.
Roy David Siefker is more than an ordinary principal.
To students at Detroit Urban Lutheran Schools, he is a big brother and occasional
At any given time of the day, he can be found sweeping the floor, painting the
hallways, coaching the junior varsity basketball team, cutting school yard grass or using
his barbering skills to give a child a free haircut.
"There is nothing that David can't do," said Deborah PeekBrown, whose son
Aaron is in the seventh grade. "David has a caring relationship with every student in
the school and has taken the children under his wings. He drives them home if they need a
ride and takes them places on the weekend.
"Every month he cuts my son's hair for free. It saves me money."
Not only are parents aware of Siefker's contributions, but so are many of his peers. At
a retreat last summer, he was named Administrator of the Year by the Michigan District
Lutheran Principals Conference. The decision was based on his close relationship with the
Lord and his ability to provide children with a Christ-centered education.
"The award was a complete surprise to me," said Siefker, 54, who prefers
people to address him by his middle name. "I'm humbled.
"I've received many awards over the years, but I don't put one award over the
other. I put the children first. What also gives me joy is to be able to serve the
community, to see the students' accomplishments on a daily basis."
Detroit Urban Lutheran has been in four different locations before finding a permanent
home at old Detroit West High School, 8181 Greenfield.
The school has been K8 for 23 years. The high school component was added four years
ago. The school will hold its first high school graduation June 1999.
Michigan has 100 Lutheran-operated elementary schools, 160 preschools and six high
schools with a combined student population of more than 25,000 students, said Dr. George
Locke, superintendent of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Schools, with offices in Ann Arbor.
Detroit Urban Lutheran is the only Lutheran school in Detroit and the only Lutheran
school in the state with a K12 in one building.
"I'm not the superman who is doing everything," said Siefker, who also serves
as the school's art instructor. "I have good teachers, support staff and parents who
are helping me in my endeavors. We have always referred to ourselves as 'The Detroit Urban
Lutheran Family' and always will."
Where does he get the energy to perform the multitude of tasks?
"Certainly, my energy comes from the Lord," said the Indiana native who has
served as principal since 1973. "And being able to serve in a Christian school and a
Christian community is also a blessing."
Siefker truly cares about his students, said parent Rosalind CaldwellJones. She
recalled her first encounter with Siefker:
"I was looking for a school for my daughter and I went to speak with Mr. Siefker.
They told me he was in the gym. When I arrived in the gym, I saw a man sweeping the floor.
I asked him where Mr. Siefker was and he said, 'I'm Mr. Siefker.'
"There is no job too small or too big for him to do," said Caldwell-Jones,
whose daughter, Alanna, is a seventh-grader and son, Alan, is a fourth-grader. "He's
like a foster parent to many children. Now that's what I call caring."
Locke, who has known Siefker for 15 years, said he is probably one of the outstanding
principals in urban education. "David has a good relationship with parents and
students, and he's pushing for high academic achievement," he said.
Siefker is optimistic about the future of Detroit students.
"One of our goals is to build a strong Christian community," Siefker said.
"Here at Detroit Urban Lutheran, the fact that we work as a family is more than any
single award. I thank the Lord for this opportunity to serve this community."
This article is reprinted with permission of The Detroit News.