Danny Lackey is the Director of Diversity and Student Support Services at Merrillville Schools. To him, a life well lived is a life of service. He gives back to his community by listening and supporting students with an open heart.
"We are social beings, and I believe we can engage other people that helps to bring out their best, and by doing that we also bring out the best in ourselves," said Lackey.
Lackey understands the power of encouragement and how important it is for youth to have a guiding hand as they learn and grow.
As a youngster, he joined the scouts for three years. His scoutmaster Mr. Anderson was essential for Lackey learning to set and achieve goals. Mr. Anderson was also instrumental in teaching Lackey how to take steps towards his ambition and persevere.
"There's a moral code, and there is the process of earning merit badges to set goals that you can achieve, and I know that for a fact that it has played a huge role in my life," Lackey said.
Lackey was born in East Chicago, Indiana. He attended Donald E. Gavit Senior High School and graduated as one of five African Americans in his class. Growing up in a poor area that lacked diversity was very challenging for Lackey. His high school music teacher, Mr. Clark, provided him opportunities to deal with some of the racism he experienced. Mr. Clark's expectations were always high and didn't allow Lackey to wallow in pity over situations he didn't have any control over.
"When you have role models who don't look like you, it helps you to understand that there are good people of all shapes and sizes," Lackey said.
Lackey attended Indiana University Bloomington. Since he didn’t live in the area, Lackey had no choice but to commute to the school for his education. Eager to graduate, Lackey and six colleagues chose to commute together. No matter what obstacle was in Lackey's way, he always overcame it.
"We made it happen. It was exhausting, but in the end, it was worth it," said Lackey.
In 1981 he graduated with his degree in social work. He received his masters in attitude counseling from Purdue Calumet and earned his administrative license from Indiana Wesleyan University. After a lot of hard work, he earned his Ed.S and got a superintendent license from Mothman University.
Lackey's primary goal is to focus on all elements of supporting a child's education. A vital part of that is helping children deal with the emotional challenges that come with growing up.
"The bottom line is that when you educate a child, you educate the whole child. So whatever is going on with that child they bring it into the classroom," Lackey said. "We provide services to assist children with their family so that they can be at their best in the classroom."
Today he oversees the STAND, (Socially Together and Naturally Diverse) student clubs. It promotes the appreciation of diversity through community service and education. He has won multiple awards for his efforts to encourage and celebrate diversity from the Quality of Life Council Award to The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana Award.
"It's been a great experience to see what I can do to create an environment that serves people well."
Lackey is currently working on his dissertation to get his doctorate in education. He will continue to promote diversity and understanding among Merrillville's youth.