Boyd plans to move district foward as interim superintendent

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2019

LANETT — New Interim Lanett City Schools Superintendent Jennifer Boyd has a stake in the game as she leads the school district into a new era.

“It is personal for me,” Boyd said. “I want to invest in our people, and I am so pro-Lanett. I want to do anything I can to help us succeed.”

Boyd was born and raised in Lanett, educated in Lanett schools and has been in the district for the past 17 years as a teacher and principal. Her first day as interim superintendent was Monday, taking over for Phillip Johnson who retired from Alabama at the end of June.

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Boyd’s initial background is in business, obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in business management and then a master’s in business administration from Troy University. After some time in retail management, she became more interested in education, teaching and human resources, so she went back to school for another master’s degree in instructional leadership at Troy.

When a position at Lanett High School opened for a business education teacher, she pounced on it. After 10 years in the classroom and seven years as principal, she feels she made all the right choices.

“I am where I am supposed to be,” Boyd said.

Even though she had moved beyond an individual classroom or building in the superintendent’s seat, she says she still misses teaching, adding that when children ask her for help, it’s the best part of her day.

“However, I feel like I make a larger impact on a greater number of people now,” Boyd said. “That includes more than just the students, but the staff that I work with every day.”

Her term as interim superintendent is a short one, for now. The Lanett Board of Education named her tenure as a term not to extend 180-days as it does a national search to find the district’s next full-time superintendent.

Boyd plans to pursue that full-time job. However, she does realize she has big shoes to fill replacing Johnson, who was the superintendent for 11 years and spent 25 years in the district.

“Mr. Johnson was a great leader, and he invested in people,” she said. “He was always thinking about what is the next thing.”

However, just because her time as interim has an expiration date attached to it, she doesn’t plan on standing pat until the next person comes through the door.

“I think the board is expecting me to pick up where Johnson left off and continue to lead the district,” Boyd said. “I don’t think they expect for me to be stagnant in this position.”

She said she isn’t sure if not sitting still means implementing new program or positions, but she does know that even if she isn’t the new superintendent, she wants to move the district forward.

“I don’t want just to hold us in place for 180 days because I am filling in,” she said. “That is not where I see myself.

“Even if it just for 180 days, I am going to do the best job I can within those 180 days to make sure we are taking steps in the right direction.”

Boyd said the people who have worked with her in the past understand she has high expectations for the students and the staff within the district. However, she knows she must give the people the tools needed to be successful.

“I may be the captain of the ship, but the ship can only sail if you have the right crew in place,” she said. “You need the hands, the feet and the minds of others to do that.”

The size of Lanett City Schools is an asset in Boyd’s eyes, saying that it allows the administrators and teachers to know each student and understand what drives them.

“You can only do that with an understanding and addressing whatever the barriers are to student achievement,” she said. “Each student is different but you have to take time to learn each student and to invest in them. And by being small, it gives us a greater opportunity to do that.”

She said the district involves itself in 21st Century technology, STEM courses and robotics as a way to reach all students. She said some students will go directly into the workforce from Lanett High School and others will attend college.

“Whatever pathway they decide to go, we want to make sure those students are equipped,” Boyd said. “That is why we try to offer so many programs.”

In her absence at the high school, Boyd’s former vice principal Bryant Lumpkin will take over as interim principal. Boyd said Lumpkin has been her right-hand man at Lanett High School.

“He knows the policies and procedure and the ins and outs,” she said. “I am confident in the skills he processes.”

If 180 days come and go, and Boyd is not named the next full-time superintendent, she said she will revert back to the principal at Lanett High School.