David Williams will abandon the year-round warmth of Phoenix for the shifting seasons in Lawrence to become principal of Prairie Park School.
Williams, 41, will arrive in July to replace Vicki Weseman, who decided to resign following appointment of her husband, Randy, as Lawrence's superintendent.
Williams is in his fifth year as principal of Shumway Elementary, a year-round school serving 820 students in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Ariz.
Prairie Park, 2711 Kensington, opened in 1994 and currently serves 440 students.
On Thursday, Williams said he and his wife, Jeanne, wanted to live closer to relatives in Kansas and Nebraska. They also were drawn to the academic reputation of Lawrence public schools.
"I was very impressed by the district's collaborative approach to educating the children of Lawrence," Williams said.
Kim Bodensteiner, principal of Cordley School and co-chair of the search committee, said Williams was the committee's unanimous choice.
"He brings great experience and enthusiasm to Prairie Park," she said.
Co-chair Myron Melton, principal of Langston Hughes School, said parents and staff at Prairie Park should be excited about the selection.
"I believe David will do an excellent job of leading their school," he said.
Williams earned a bachelor's degree at University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a master's degree at Arizona State University.
He began his career in 1984 as a second-grade teacher at Howard Kennedy Elementary in Omaha, Neb.
After three years, he moved to Chandler where he taught first, third and fourth grades from 1987 to 1992.
He was curriculum specialist and an assistant to the principal from 1992 to 1996 before appointment as Shumway's principal.
The couple's three sons are Reid, 6, Evan, 4, and Seth, 13 weeks.
Prairie Park was constructed in southeast Lawrence to replace India School. The district recently finished a classroom expansion at Prairie Park to permit three classes at each grade level.