The superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools is one of five finalists vying for a position leading Montgomery, Alabama Public Schools.
When Anthony Lewis and his family first moved to the Midwest from Alabama in 2011, they anticipated staying just a few years while he got his doctoral degree, he said. Going on 12 years later, they’re still here.
Lewis began his education career in Montgomery Public Schools, working as a special education teacher and in administration before he was recruited to work in the Kansas City, Missouri School District. The school board chose him to lead Lawrence schools in 2018, and the board voted in July to extend his contract through the end of June 2024.
Lewis said various districts have been recruiting him since the National School Public Relations Association named him a 2020-2021 “Superintendent to Watch,” and he has not returned other districts’ calls because he’s happy here. His oldest daughter married and moved to Lawrence recently, and his nephew is thinking about moving here, Lewis said.
When Montgomery reached out to him in the fall, he said he told them initially that he was “not ready to come back home.” Lewis said he and his family had discussed that “eventually,” they would need to get back closer to home, when parents needed them.
“Some of the people I graduated high school with, they’re losing their parents, and I really began to think and pray,” he said. “I didn’t want to go home when I have to go home and take care of them and can’t enjoy some type of quality of life.”
Montgomery started getting more persistent in March, Lewis said. He soon decided that “I think I owe it to my family just to put my name in the hat, just to see what happens,” he said, but that’s the only new opportunity he has sought.
He said he is still happy in Lawrence, despite the challenges the district is facing.
“I’m really excited about the possibilities, particularly of exploring free public Montessori that would be the first ever in the state of Kansas,” he said. “And so just really thinking about that and looking at some of the opportunities amidst the challenges that we’re facing, I’m really excited about continuing the work here.”
If he is selected for the new job, he said, the timing isn’t ideal, but he doesn’t think there’s ever a perfect time for someone to leave.
“The true testament of a leader is really what team do you have in place that it doesn’t matter if you’re in that seat or not, the work continues?” he said, “and I firmly believe that the team we have in place, the work will definitely continue.”
His interview for the Montgomery job is set for Wednesday, March 31. If selected by the Montgomery County Board of Education, Lewis would replace retiring Superintendent Ann Roy Moore.
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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.