Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. leaves his role on June 30, 2022
After months of careful search, review, and community engagement, including over 50 public meetings, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) has selected a new superintendent to lead New Orleans’ schools: Dr. Avis Williams. She is the first Black woman to permanently fill the role of superintendent in our city. We are grateful for the Board’s thoughtful consideration of a strong group of candidates, and look forward to working closely with Dr. Williams to serve students, families, and schools.
Dr. Avis Williams currently serves as Superintendent of Selma City Schools in Selma, Alabama, where she’s led the district for five years. Dr. Williams started her career in the U.S. Army and holds a doctorate and education specialist degree from the University of Alabama. She also holds a master’s from Alabama A&M University and a bachelor’s from Athens State College.
Dr. Avis Williams will step into the role of superintendent, succeeding Dr. Henderson Lewis’ devoted leadership of NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS). Dr. Lewis exits as the longest serving African-American superintendent in the city’s history. Dr. Williams will begin leading NOLA-PS and supporting the students, educators, and families who are a part of it. While our public schools have more autonomy than those in other school districts, our superintendent still has an enormous role in key areas including facilities, enrollment, funding, and more.
OPSB sought a leader who is ready to take on the immense challenge of leading a public school district, and who truly understands our unique system and city. To do so, OPSB engaged in a thorough search process. They began by hiring an independent search firm, Greenwood/Asher & Associates, in November. Greenwood/Asher & Associates then began a multi-stage process aimed at engaging our community, understanding candidates’ goals and experiences, and supporting OPSB in selecting the best possible leader for NOLA-PS schools.
The search process had a few key phases: planning, recruiting, evaluation and selection, and finally, appointment.
Planning (Dec 2021 – Feb 2022):
The firm hosted over fifty community meetings, many at local community and recreation centers, with hundreds of people in attendance overall. They also held virtual sessions. They used these sessions to help shape their search materials. On a special website, nolasuperintendentsearch.com, they shared information about the search process and offered a survey where community members could offer feedback on what they sought in the leader of NOLA-PS.
Recruiting (January – February 2022):
The firm shared the job description online. They also sought nominations and recommendations for the role. The firm then gathered applications and presented them to OPSB, who selected candidates to move onto the interview phase.
Evaluation & Selection (March 2022):
OPSB interviewed the candidates virtually, connected with their references, and conducted background checks. Then, OPSB selected fifteen candidates for a “second round” of interviews. Following the second round, three finalists were chosen: Marshall Tuck, Dr. Avis Williams and André Wright.
The finalists were interviewed by the members of our district who will be most impacted by this decision: our students. You can see the fantastic engagement from our young people with all three candidates: Andre Wright, Dr. Avis Williams, and Marshall Tuck.
On March 29 at 8 am, OPSB held another round of interviews with the candidates. At 6:30 pm, OPSB held a “meet and greet” with the three finalists at George Washington Carver High School that was open to all.
On March 30, OPSB hosted a special board meeting to select the next superintendent of NOLA-PS. Dr. Williams was selected unanimously. She will orient to the role alongside Dr. Lewis before fully assuming the role of superintendent in June.
We are grateful for the committed leadership of Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr., who will have served as superintendent of NOLA-PS for seven years when he transitions out of the role. He has been a staunch advocate for our children and schools through incredibly challenging times such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida. He has been clear in his vision as to what all children deserve, both academically and when it comes to their mental health and well-being.
Now, Dr. Lewis passes on the responsibilities to Dr. Avis Williams. Dr. Williams is a leader who believes deeply in our system, is dedicated to our students, committed to supporting our educators, and eager to involve families and our community in this work. We look forward to working together in our shared, deep commitment to our city’s children.