Lakeland’s Top Dogs


Matthew Wirtz, News Writer

Anytime you walk past the front office of Lakeland High School, you might notice the little hallway that is directly to the left of it. It seems rather inconspicuous, but when you look closer, you’ll notice a string of about four or five offices.

These small compartments hold LHS’s administrators, the people who run the school. 

The first office on the left is home to Jimmy Hoffman, vice principal of LHS.

Hoffman is in charge of discipline, making sure school policy is being followed, and making sure instruction to students is what it should be.

He also makes sure that any students that fall behind in schooling get caught up to where they should be. Hoffman’s goal is to help close the gap between where the students are and where they should be.

“We have students catching up three or four grade levels to where they should be. It’s not unrealistic because it might be a deficiency from grade school. They can now have the time to work on it more seriously and they are more developed than they were before,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman often faces tough decisions. It’s impossible to make everyone happy, and he has to be okay with that. He always does his best to prioritize the students though.

One unofficial thing Hoffman does at LHS is greeting students. Almost every day before school starts or during a passing period, you can find him saying hello to students which oftentimes makes them feel more welcome.

Hoffman graduated from LHS himself in 2003. He went off to college and came back to help serve his community in 2007. 

He knew he wanted to help motivate students who didn’t always like school. So, he worked as a study support, due to his lack of a teaching degree. 

As a study support, he helped struggling students learn how to take notes, be more organized, and overall become stronger learners.

Hoffman used to help coach football and basketball but has now transitioned to coach basketball at the younger age range, where his kids are.

“I get to teach my favorite subject here at Lakeland which is character. Any time someone might make a mistake it’s okay, and I get to help them with that. I get to give them some more chances and motivate them to be better people,” Hoffman said.

The next room down the hall is Matt Neff, the activities director for LHS. 

Neff manages essentially all the extracurricular activities. This includes athletic events, drama, speech, and any other activities that can compete at the state level. He also supports any clubs or programs.

“The best part about this position is that I get to experience all of the highs and lows of people involved in activities as a fan. I get to watch all of these team or individuals efforts. I get all wrapped up in the seasons and people involved,” Neff said.

However, with having to track all of the seasons and activities, Neff often finds himself having to be ready at any point, 24/7. The position is fast-paced and a demanding role to take.

Neff has been working at Lakeland for twenty-two years. He hasn’t always been the activities director though. He used to teach history, government, philosophy, and geography. 

After that, he began to coach sports. He became the head wrestling coach, assistant football coach, cross country coach, and lastly the track and field coach. 

In Neff’s senior year of high school, he knew he wanted to become a part of the education field. His love for sports and history provided the avenue to reach where he is today. 

The activities director has been in North Idaho his whole life. He attended Athol Elementary, Lakeland Junior High School, and then LHS.

“I was here when the buffalo was still roaming the area,” Neff said. 

Every year working at Lakeland means more and more to him. His children even come through the district. 

“I’m committed to make sure we have the best programs for our athletes and parents to be apart of,” said Neff.

After this, there is still one more office left in the hall. At the very end of it, there is Trent Derrick, principal of LHS.

Derrick oversees any and all programs at LHS and staffing of the building.

The principal enjoys seeing different students excel and take on different adversities. 

“The best part of the job is seeing students do well. I love having conversations with students and hearing great news about different obstacles they’ve overcome. We have a ton of that here at LHS,” said Derrick.

Derrick’s least favorite part of the job is the small details that come with it. 

Derrick has been working at Lakeland for twenty-six years. 

Before becoming one of the highest positions at LHS, Derrick was a chemistry and physics teacher and also coached men’s varsity basketball. Derrick taught and coached for fourteen years. 

For the next six years, Derrick worked as the athletic director. He has been principal for the last six.

Education wasn’t Derrick’s original plan. He wanted to be a pastor and even went to ministry school for the role. After completing that, he started looking for jobs when he found one in a private Christian school. He became their athletic director and the religious studies teacher.

“I decided to just try it. The education field wasn’t even on my radar, but I really enjoyed it for the four years I was there so I decided to stick with it,” Derrick said.

Derrick wanted to become a full time teacher. So, he decided to move to Lewiston and enroll in Lewis and Clark State College. After four years, he obtained the degree and became employed in the Lakeland School district.

Lakeland held the best coaching opportunity which peaked his interest.

“Lakeland’s been my home. I’ve driven to this place for twenty six years. My kids have all graduated from hear. It has a special place in my heart. Education is a rich vocation because you get to see all the lives that changed,” Derrick said.