Al Lewis, Superintendent of Schools, Weymouth Township School District

Al Lewis, a lifelong New Jersey resident, has a distinguished career of service to teachers and students. Starting as an elementary teacher, he became Curriculum Supervisor in Gloucester Township Public Schools, creating innovative programs and a Summer STEAM Camp for underprivileged students. A proud alumnus of Rowan University and Walden University, he is currently preparing to defend his dissertation for his Ed.D. Appointed Superintendent of Weymouth Township School District in 2022, he serves all district employees and the taxpayers of Weymouth Township. Lewis also proudly serves as the head coach of the Philadelphia Liberties 14U Women’s Hockey Team.


 As the proud Superintendent of Weymouth Township School in New Jersey, I’ve had the privilege of leading our educational community toward a vision that prioritizes people-centered work environments. As a product of Rowan University’s College of Education, my journey has been guided by a commitment to fostering collaboration, supporting mental health, encouraging professional growth, promoting inclusivity, and engaging with our wider community. With a mission to provide a people-centered work environment that puts people first and prioritizes total wellbeing, we’ve undertaken a lot of transformative initiatives and mindset shifts.

Emphasizing Transparency, Collaboration, and Team Building

One of the first steps I took was to foster a culture of collaboration among our staff. I’ve always believed that a cohesive team is essential for student success. To this end, I reinforced the vitality of regular team-building activities and professional development workshops. We have partnered with different professional development providers that offer a plethora of professional development sessions. We also encourage staff to take ownership of their professional growth and seek out individualized sessions that meet their needs.

These initiatives encourage our teachers and staff to work together, gain and share best practices, and support each other. Likewise, I established and continually reinforced an open-door policy with much success. Open communication is key, and by prioritizing it, I’ve seen our teachers become more comfortable voicing their ideas and concerns, even when they go against the established norms or popular sentiment. This leads to a more dynamic and innovative educational setting and empowers all staff to share their ideas, not just the most vocal staff members.

Focusing on Mental Health and Well-being

Caring for our mental health is a crucial aspect of our work environment. Through a partnership with Teacher Coach, we have implemented a comprehensive wellness program for staff, including mindfulness sessions, stress management workshops, and access to mental health resources. Once a marking period, their team comes to our school and offers therapy sessions, chair massages, and mental health support. This proactive approach helps create a positive school environment where everyone can thrive both personally and professionally. For students, we adopted new Social Emotional Learning programs that equip our students with social skills and mental health strategies that allow them to navigate their world with greater resiliency. We added a school counselor to our school and have begun outfitting a new counseling space to increase the effectiveness of our counseling services. Partnerships with local mental health resources have added to our mental health offerings, including clinical aid for students and their families.

Recognizing the pressures that come with teaching and the potential for burnout, we have made a long-term commitment to these initiatives. We value our teachers and staff and care for their and their families’ wellbeing. By prioritizing the mental health of our staff, we’ve fostered an environment where educators feel valued and capable of delivering their best to our students.

Investing in Professional Development and Growth

Continuous learning and professional development are pillars of our educational philosophy. I’ve implemented a robust professional development program that offers our teachers opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge. Through workshops, seminars, and conferences, our teachers stay abreast of the latest educational trends and techniques.

Additionally, I introduced a mentorship program where experienced teachers support and guide newer educators. This initiative not only aids in the professional growth of new teachers but also reinforces a culture of mutual respect and support within our school. By investing in our staff’s professional development, we ensure that Weymouth Township School remains at the forefront of educational excellence.

Promoting Inclusivity and Diversity

Inclusivity and diversity are fundamental to our vision for Weymouth Township School. In fact, our mission and vision statement were completely overhauled this year by a district-wide committee. It now includes specific language for inclusivity and diversity, “Our school is a place of inclusivity, accountability, and positive morale for all Hawks.” We’ve worked tirelessly to create an environment where all students and staff feel accepted and appreciated, regardless of their backgrounds. Our school has implemented policies and programs that promote diversity and inclusion. Through membership in the New Jersey Consortium for Excellence through Equity, I’ve spearheaded cultural competency training for our staff, ensuring that educators are equipped to handle a diverse student body and foster an inclusive classroom environment. We also support various student-led initiatives and clubs that celebrate different cultures and perspectives, providing students with a platform to express themselves and learn from one another.

Engaging the Wider Community

A school’s success is deeply intertwined with the support of its wider community. I’ve made significant efforts to strengthen the relationship between Weymouth Township School, our local officials, and our community. Through regular attendance at community events, including town officials and community members in school events, and an open-door policy, we’ve created a transparent and inclusive dialogue between the school and the community. Prior to my appointment as Superintendent, our school’s Home and School Association had gone defunct during the pandemic. I created and enacted an action plan that resulted in a new HSA being formed, and the results have been dramatic. Seasonal celebrations, fundraisers, and special events for our students and staff have all been realized thanks to the hard work of our new HSA.

Our social media platforms have been leveraged in innovative ways in order to more effectively engage with our parents and community. Maintaining a steady stream of social media engagements that highlight our students and their achievements, give glimpses into our school days, remind parents of important events, as well as engaging posts that allow parents and the community to share their experiences with our school all work together to improve the public’s perception of the school and its operations. For example, on our only snow day of the school year, I posted a picture of my family playing in the snow and asked our social media followers to post pictures of their snow day fun. Roughly half of our district posted content to our initial post. Leveraging social media, which is how most of our families prefer to consume and share information, has proven to be a powerful tool for bridging the gap between home and school.

These efforts have resulted in increased community involvement in school activities and decision-making processes. Parents and local residents feel more connected to the school, which in turn enhances the support system available to students and staff. This community-centric approach has made Weymouth Township School a hub of local engagement and pride.

Looking Ahead

My tenure at Weymouth Township School has been guided by a dedication to creating people-centered work environments. The initiatives we’ve implemented have not only improved the quality of education but also significantly enhanced the well-being and professional satisfaction of our staff. By prioritizing collaboration, mental health, professional development, inclusivity, and community engagement, we’ve set a high standard for educational leadership.

As we continue to flourish, I firmly believe that the principles of people-centered leadership are crucial for the future of education. Our work at Weymouth Township School is a testament to the profound impact that a dedicated and compassionate leader can have on a school community, paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive, and supportive educational landscape.

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