Getting Better

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Aug 9, 2022

As a classroom teacher, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students, to help them learn and grow.  I cared deeply, but I soon learned that caring was not enough, so I set out to learn more about how people learn.  In pursuit of knowledge, I even got a Ph.D., but in the process I learned that "there is no subject, however complex if studied with diligence and patience, will not become more complex."  Learning and getting better is an ongoing process, but as Tommy Lofton taught, we have more fun and get the job done when we work together and help each other get better.


Over 66 years of research confirm that successful schools and businesses are "learning places" where people learn by doing. Some of those studies were conducted by Cliff St. Germain and Michael Fullan, professional friends of mine. Successful businesses and schools begin with beliefs about what matters most, analyze what works and why, look for new and better ways of doing things, solve problems, and persist in spite of failure. They learn with, and from, each other. I learned by doing as part of a statewide school improvement project. 


A group of us worked with schools to help them learn and get better.  Together we (1) identified the things they were doing well and the things they could do better, (2) developed a plan for improvement, and (3) evaluated results.  One of the schools I worked with was in a poor area where most students qualified for free lunch and achievement was low.  The buildings were old and not very inviting.  Teachers were discouraged and concerned about the low level of parent involvement and support for their children.  Many had not been successful in schools themselves and didn't know how to help their children.  When I asked what teachers had done to get parents more involved, they realized they had done little.  Together the teachers brainstormed ideas and developed a plan with specific actions, steps and timelines for involving and reaching every parent.  One year later, attendance at parent-teacher meetings and conferences averaged 90%! Every parent, and many grandparents, were enlisted as volunteers and worked at the school or did a job at home to help. Based on hours of service, parents received T-shirts and other recognition.  The parents themselves organized a "Do-Dad" Club that worked to improve the physical appearance of the school.  Proudly wearing their "Do-Dad" hats, the parents painted the buildings inside and out, planted shrubs and flowers, and built furniture and cabinets for the classrooms.  Each parent's name was listed in the main hall of the building, and it was not unusual to see parents standing looking proudly at their name.  It was then that I became convinced that "an individual can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle". Later members of the faculty jokingly told me that they had "created a monster." When the parents found out what could be accomplished by working together, they organized a group and went to the parish council to get a recreation facility built in their neighborhood.  As a parent told me in another school, where similar results occurred, "This project is not just changing a school. It's changing a whole community."


It is interesting to note that Tommy began the Lofton Corporation based on similar principles that he had learned in his years in industry.  Tommy's goal for Lofton Staffing was to "create a work environment where people could have fun and get better; where people expect fair pay, fair treatment, and an opportunity to learn; where people are told what to do and not how to do it so that they can amaze you with their ingenuity; where relationships are built one on one; where problems are viewed as opportunities to build relationships and trust; where people feel better when they leave than when they came in; where people learn to love Mondays; where people are reminded that life is a temporary assignment and to have a good day because you won't get it back; where people study, train, and work, not only to serve clients but to serve each other, understanding that if they help each other to improve, they have already helped themselves." Tommy's criteria for hiring was: "Do you care? Can I trust you? Do you want to do better?


One of my favorite memories and evidence of success at Lofton Staffing was when Tommy received a memo and picture from the Beaumont office regarding one of our employees, Charles Odom.  Charles rode his bike to work every day, and he had never been late or absent.  Our client rewarded Charles by purchasing him a previously owned vehicle to travel to work. Good things happen when people work together and help each other!


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.