National group recognizes Lawrence superintendent for ‘dynamic’ leadership, strong communication

photo by: Dylan Lysen

Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis speaks during a presentation about the school district's progress on its strategic plan during the Lawrence school board's meeting on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.

A national group has recognized Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis as a school leader to keep an eye on.

The National School Public Relations Association recently named Lewis to its 2020 Superintendents to Watch list. The recognition honors school district leaders who have fewer than five years of experience as a superintendent but demonstrate “dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication.” Lewis is among 24 superintendents across the country named to the list, and he’s the only one from Kansas.

The Lawrence school district said in a news release that Lewis was selected for the award, in part, because of the “Listening and Learning” tours he conducted during his first year in the position, the 2018-19 school year. The tour also helped lead to the district’s comprehensive strategic plan, which the Lawrence school board approved in the summer of 2019.

“The three words that best describe his arrival in our community: ‘on the move,'” Lawrence school board member Melissa Johnson said of Lewis in the news release.. “He visited all 22 campuses before his first official day on the job.”

Lewis also earned praise from local teachers union representative Jeff Plinsky, who has been working for the district since 2005.

“For the first time in my tenure, the students know who their superintendent is and are willing to seek him out in a crowd,” Plinsky said, according to the news release. “I can tell you that teachers feel much the same way; they find him willing to listen and engage in dialogue with them about their concerns as well as their (and their students’) successes.”

Lewis told the Journal-World he was honored to be selected, but noted the award honors more people than just him.

“This is certainly not a reflection on me alone, this is a true testament of the talented and dedicated team we have in this school district,” Lewis said in an email. “This also affirms that we have some great things going on in this district that we should be proud of. We haven’t arrived, the best is yet to come.”

Lewis is entering his third school year as the Lawrence school district’s leader. He previously served as an assistant superintendent in the Kansas City, Mo., school district.


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