After over a decade in the district, Lawrence Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards is set to retire at the end of the school year.
Leading the district since 2011, Edwards submitted her intent to retire near the end of last year, and the Board of Education formally accepted it at its Jan. 10, 2018 meeting. Her official retirement date is May 19, 2018. Andrew Zuckerman has been named interim superintendent.
Edwards will take the reins as superintendnt of Lynchburg City Schools in Lynchburg, Virginia. The district consists of 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools.
Edwards began her tenure in Lawrence in March 2006 as the assistant superintendent over instructional services. She was named superintendent in 2011 after Philip Meara retired.
During Edwards’ time as assistant superintendent, she and her administrative team wrote the Talent 21 federal grant of $1.2 million that provided the 1:1 mobile initiative of supplying a chromebook to every student in grades 6-8. Since the program’s inception in 2010, the district gradually added grade levels—currently, all students in grades 6-12 have a Chromebook for use in school and at home.
Edwards also led the drafting and finalization of the district’s current five-year strategic plan that runs until 2020. Athletic and special education strategic plans were incorporated into the district’s final plan.
As New Jersey’s Department of Education required revamping of all districts’ evaluative measures, Edwards led discussions and ultimately developed structured protocols and rubrics for staff evaluations—first for principals, supervisors and central office administrators; then for teachers and other certificated staff; and finally, for non-certificated staff.
Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey during Edwards’ tenure, and she led the district’s response and recovery efforts. As Lawrence High School regained electrical power, the district opened the building for residents still without power to recharge electronic devices, have a warm shower, and get a bite to eat. Edwards negotiated with the Lawrence Township Education Association for how staff and students made up missed days during the storm.
Edwards has also led annual community conversations between the district and Lawrence resident. She is also active on social media and often shares district stories and connects with residents online.
The district was named a National District of Character in 2014, and Edwards recently began an Equity initiative. #KindnessMatters is this year’s LTPS theme. She has presented on character, equity and diversity, as well as educational leadership topics.
Edwards also led the district’s branding efforts, including adopting a district logo and creating a tagline: Lead, Achieve, Succeed. She was instrumental in the district’s involvement with Sustainable Schools for Jersey. She established a district Green Team and registered the district with SSJ. In 2017 and after an extensive process, all seven schools earned SSJ bronze certification. Additionally, LTPS received the Sustainability Makes $ense Award—the only New Jersey district to earn the distinction—for the solar initiative that has reaped revenue for the district and, consequently, savings for Lawrence residents.
Edwards presides over the New Jersey School Development Council’s Executive Committee. She sits on the National Association of Educational Progress Science Committee and helps develop testing.
In a career spanning 31 years, Edwards has worked as a teacher, coach, supervisor, assistant superintendent, and superintendent in New Jersey. She serves on and/or leads multiple education-related committees, is an active member of a multitude of education-centered associations, and is frequently sought to present at local, state, national or international conferences. Edwards holds a master’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University and a doctorate in education leadership, management and policy from Seton Hall University. She is married and has five children.
Also at the Jan. 10 meeting, the school board appointed Zuckerman as acting superintendent immediately following Edwards’s retirement and ending Aug. 16, 2018. The BOE will use a search firm to assist in finding a permanent superintendent.
Zuckerman presently serves as the district’s director of instructional services. He began his Lawrence Township tenure in 2004 as an assistant principal at Lawrence Intermediate School. In 2005, Zuckerman was promoted to Lawrence Middle School principal where he worked until he became director of instructional services in 2011.
Prior to his work in Lawrence Township, Zuckerman was a supervisor in Parsippany-Troy Hills and began his career in the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district, where he taught for eight years.
Zuckerman earned a bachelor’s degree in science in education from Hofstra University, a master’s in educational administration from Rider University and his educational doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Zuckerman is married and has three children.