Ted Legasey was present at the creation of the modern computer. That was the disc-based machine, which as the desktop a generation later, would find its way into millions of homes and offices.
“I was on the bleeding edge,” Legasey says about his days as a Lieutenant in the Air Force when he worked with early-third-generation computers that, despite having only 8K of memory, helped him become a data-driven systems analyst.
In 1978, Legasey co-founded SRA, an IT and professional services company that went global and, after a surge in government-related business following 9/11, went public. After serving as Executive Vice President and COO of the public company for two years, Legasey decided to retire, and he and his wife built a home on Kiawah Island.
Retirement, though, was short-lived for Legasey. An SRA business colleague asked him to help save the financially beset Charleston Symphony. Using the principles of systems analysis that led to success in his military and business careers, Legasey led the Symphony to create a successful business model, the chief feature of which was cutting full-time musicians from 46 to 24. “The orchestra has been in the black every year since,” Legasey said.
His former business colleague called again: Would Legasey take a close look at the Charleston County School District and how well it was meeting its targets for providing effective education for all students? Again, using the principles of systems analysis, Legasey concluded that the school district was “failing miserably,” especially educating black students, who were nearly half the enrollment.
“What I’m trying to do," he says, "is one, illuminate for all stakeholders what the facts are; two, highlight alternatives that work better; and three, lean on the system to help bring about a solution.”
Is success in sight? “It’s too soon to say,” he says. But on February 22, the new CCSD superintendent, Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, reported four “brutal facts” about “public education in our region, state and nation … failing to serve Black, Hispanic, and lower-income children.” She proposed a 16-point solution to deliver success “not just for some students but for ALL.”
She sounded a lot like Ted Legasey.
Words by Tom Grubisich
Photo by Adam Chandler