UPDATE: Lynchburg school officials say Crystal Edwards has been released from her current contract in New Jersey as of March 31, and she will begin her duties as Lynchburg Superintendent of Schools April 2.
PREVIOUS: The Lynchburg School Board has selected a New Jersey educator to be the city school system’s next leader. Crystal Edwards becomes the first African-American woman to head the Lynchburg school system. Reporter Andre Whitehead was there when Board Chairman Michael Nilles announced the decision late Thursday afternoon at a special board meeting.
Crystal Edwards has 31 years of education experience. She is currently superintendent for Lawrence Township Public Schools in New Jersey. Until she arrives in Lynchburg, Larry Massie will continue to serve as Interim Superintendent through the end of March.
From Lynchburg City Schools: At a special called meeting of the Lynchburg City School Board, the School Board announced the appointment of Dr. Crystal M. Edwards as the 13th Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools. Dr. Edwards is currently serving as the Superintendent for Lawrence Township Public Schools, NJ. Dr. Larry A. Massie will continue to serve as Interim Superintendent, under a month-to-month contract through March 31, 2018.
“The School Board is honored that Dr. Edwards will be assuming this critical leadership position for the City of Lynchburg,” said School Board Chairman Michael Nilles. “Her career in public education has been marked by a steady rise of taking on increasing responsibilities and improving academic achievement for students from all backgrounds and economic circumstances. Public education in Lynchburg faces a complex combination of fiscal, educational and social challenges. The Board expects continued improvement in school accreditation and student achievement under Dr. Edwards’ stewardship.”
Dr. Edwards has over 31 years of experience in education. She earned a B.S. in Secondary Education from Penn State University, an M.S. in Chemistry from Rutgers University, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy from Seton Hall University. She began the first five years of her career as a high school Biology teacher in East Orange, New Jersey. After East Orange, Dr. Edwards spent the next nine years as a high school Chemistry/Biology/Earth Science/Laboratory Techniques teacher in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
In 2001, Dr. Edwards joined the staff of Metuchen School District as the Supervisor of Math and Science, and after two years she moved on to become the Director of Math and Science for the Highland Park School District. Much of her work in both districts focused on raising the academic performance of at-risk students, particularly in the area of math. Under her leadership, student performance on the High School Proficiency Assessment for math increased. While in Highland Park, she teamed up with the Director of Humanities to develop afterschool, Saturday, and summer math, literacy and technology programs for at-risk students. These Title I-funded extended day programs were the basis of her research and dissertation for her doctoral degree.
In 2005, Dr. Edwards became the Assistant Superintendent for Lawrence Township Public Schools in New Jersey. During her time as Assistant Superintendent she accomplished many things with the help of the administrative team and staff including revising the district’s curriculum, establishing afterschool math and literacy programs for at-risk students, implementing a district-wide assessment and accountability system in grades K-10, developing career academies at the high school, and writing and being awarded a $1.4 million grant for 1:1 mobile devices for students in grades 6 and 7. Since receiving the initial grant, the 1:1 mobile device program has expanded to include students in grades 6-12.
In 2011, Dr. Edwards was appointed as the Superintendent for Lawrence Township Public Schools, with a student population of about 4,000, where she continued to pursue opportunities for excellence. She was instrumental in developing the District’s 5-Year Strategic Plan and hosting an annual Community Conversation to gather input and share progress. Through the strategic planning process the community worked collaboratively with the district to increase the graduation requirements, increase enrollment and participation in the arts, institute programs and services to address teenage mental health, build two multi-purpose artificial turf fields, increase the number of students participating in service learning and community service, institute programs to enhance special education and support services, increase the number of parents and families participating in school programs, and craft a $25 million referendum for upgrades in HVAC, facilities and safety and security.
Through supporting the wonderful work of her staff, Dr. Edwards assisted the district and schools in achieving state and national recognition as National and New Jersey District and Schools of Character, Sustainable Jersey for Schools Bronze Certified, NAMM Best Communities for Music Education, College Board AP District Honor Roll, New Jersey Monthly Top 100 High Schools, and NJSPRA Gold Award for Communication. She served as the president of New Jersey School Development Council and has presented several workshops on Aspiring Leaders, Courageous Conversations, and Leadership Ethics. She was also an active member of the New Jersey and American Association of School Administrators and has presented workshops on Principal Evaluation, Women’s Leadership, and Equity. She worked closely with her local, regional and state school boards associations and presented workshops on Strategic Planning, Day of Dialogue and Transportation Blues. She served as a NJASA-assigned mentor for new superintendents and assistant superintendents. She also taught Advanced Supervision and Evaluation for educators obtaining their principal certification through the NJ EXCEL program.
One of the highlights of her professional career was being selected as the keynote speaker for the Let Me Learn: Unlocking Learning Potential Summit. Through this honor, Dr. Edwards worked with educators in Sliema, Malta to address the educational impact of the recent changes in their student demographics and population.
Dr. Edwards has a very supportive and loving family. She and her husband, Brian, enjoy the outdoors and spend their free time bike riding, hiking, swimming, and running half marathons. They are the proud parents of a blended family of five children: Robyn, Trey, Miracle, Malcolm and Laila, each of whom have unique gifts and talents that make their parents proud.
“I am excited to join the Lynchburg educational family and work with the talented staff, engaged community, and supportive School Board to continue to pursue and achieve excellence for our children, staff and families,” said Dr. Edwards.
Dr. Edwards’ appointment marks the end of a nearly five-month national search conducted with the assistance of Ray & Associates, a national search consultant in the K-12 educational leadership field. The search process incorporated input from over 700 community stakeholders, LCS employees, parents and students. Over 70 applications were received for the position, and interviews were conducted with multiple highly qualified candidates from within the Commonwealth and across the country. During the candidate screening and interview process, several down-select processes were performed. Dr. Edwards was the preferred candidate each time. Her qualifications, collaborative leadership style and accomplishments convinced the Board that she was most suited to lead Lynchburg City School Division to full accreditation and success for all our students.
We welcome Dr. Edwards!
A photo of Dr. Edwards is attached.