Breaking barriers: Jennifer Boyd, a champion of education, empowerment and equality

Published 9:06 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

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With Black History Month underway, Lanett City School District recognized a hometown hero in in Jennifer Boyd, the school district’s first African American female superintendent. 

“I’ll just say this is a ministry,” Boyd said. “It’s not just a job for me.”

Boyd got a business degree from Auburn University in 1999. She continued on to get her MBA from Troy University. At that time, a position opened up for a business education teacher in Lanett. 

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“I never thought that I would be an education,” Boyd said. 

Throughout her education, Boyd had always had a vision of working in human resources and doing education and training for an industry. However, when she took that position as business education teacher, she never looked back. 

“Little did I know that, yes, I would be doing education and training, but it wouldn’t be for some industry,” Boyd said. “It would actually be for the local school district where I graduated from. And once I started teaching, I actually fell in love with it.”

Boyd was born and raised in Lanett. She attended Lanett City Schools, graduating from Lanett High School in 1994. Returning to her own hometown, Boyd had the homefield advantage. She was an active member of her students’ community. 

“Growing up in the community, attending school here locally, then working for the school district, I’m very much in tune with what’s going on in our community,” she said. “I’m very much in tune with the needs of our children because I still live within the community. So I think that gives me a huge advantage.”

Soon, Boyd decided to move forward with her career and earned her master’s degree in education leadership. In 2012, she became the principal and Career and Technical Education Director of Lanett High School. She officially became superintendent of Lanett City Schools in November 2019.

“I’m hoping that my life is an example, a good example for somebody else, and that it causes them to believe in themselves and to pursue their own goals,” Boyd said. “And I’m just thankful for the opportunity. I’m thankful for being chosen.”

She also received her specialist degree and is even now working on her doctorate of education.

Over the years, schools have seen a lot of changes. One of the recent changes has been the shift in focus to the whole child, according to Boyd. The schools place a focus on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of students — not just their academics success.

“Honestly, what we’re seeing now, especially post-COVID, is so different from what I saw in my early years in education,” she said. “There’s a huge focus now on meeting the needs of the whole child.”

Lanett City School District is working to meet that need. Boyd said LCS recently hired a mental health services coordinator. 

“We have so much so much going on now … We’re putting things in place to meet the needs of the whole child, whether that be academically, social emotional learning, extracurricular mental health,” Boyd said.

As Black History Month continues, Boyd said schools have come a long way, but there is still work to be done for equality.

“For me, it’s not just about race because I am African American but also I’m a woman,” Boyd said. “There are some barriers that still have to be broken down.”

Students of Lanett have a strong example of a role model in Boyd. 

Through her leadership, the schools try to encourage students to believe in and invest in themselves so that they can create the lives they want.

“To me, that is very important because someone instilled those same things in me, and someone saw potential in me,” Boyd said. “And they invested in me, and they lifted me up, and they pushed me to reach my full potential.”