INDIANAPOLIS — In just a few days, Lisa Lantrip will start packing the empty boxes sitting along the wall of her office at the headquarters of Wayne Township schools, where she’s been an assistant superintendent for the past seven years.
She knows the task will be an emotional one. Not only will Lantrip be leaving behind a job she loves to become the new superintendent at Southern Hancock schools: She’ll also be saying goodbye to a school system where she’s worked for the past 17 years. She also grew up in the community, graduating from Ben Davis High School.
“I also did my student teaching here,” Lantrip said, sitting at the conference table in her Wayne Township office on Monday afternoon. “This is home.”
Still, two years ago, when she saw there would be an opening for superintendent of Southern Hancock schools, she knew it was a position she wanted to apply for.
“I’m picky,” Lantrip said. “I did not interview for every job that came along. This was a job that I had been watching for a couple of years.”
After spending the first half of her educational career in rural districts as an elementary teacher and principal, Lantrip knows she’s in for a major change. Wayne Township, on the west side of Indianapolis, has 16,000 students and the largest licensed pre-school program in the state. Southern Hancock has about 3,200 students.
“This district has been so good to me and I’ve learned a lot, but at the same time, I enjoy a different environment as well,” she said.
Lantrip is looking forward to getting to know every faculty and staff member in her new job. That was hard to do in Wayne Township, which has 1,200 teachers.
“The whole idea of getting to know everyone and getting the chance to talk with them on a personal basis is something I am looking forward to,” she said.
Those who’ve worked with Lantrip over the past 17 years say they’re sad to see her go but happy for her to get the opportunity she’s earned.
“She’s demonstrated excellent leadership both at the building level and district level,” Wayne Township Superintendent Jeffrey Butts said. “She has been a crucial member of my Cabinet and has always advocated for what is best for children... Southern Hancock is gaining an incredible leader to guide them into the future.”
Wayne Township School Board member Trish Logan has been on the board for nine years and said she’ll miss Lantrip’s professionalism and knowledge of the ever-changing school landscape at the federal and state levels.
“Her depth of knowledge is incredible,” Logan said. “She is well-respected for depth of knowledge and her ability to work with people. She’s tenacious but also very affable, and she has great people skills.”
Noting the educational family is a small one, Logan said Lantrip knows people throughout the state and at the Indiana Department of Education. However, what she liked most about working with Lantrip is her passion for students.
“She does not have a large ego,” Logan said. “She puts kids first. She used to be an elementary school principal, so her dealings with the public have been deep.”
Well aware of the direction the SH district is already headed, Lantrip said her goal is to make sure the ship stays on the right course.
“I’ve been thinking more about how to do that than I have about how to improve student achievement,” Lantrip said. “One thing we cannot do is rest on our laurels. We need to be moving forward based on what students need.”
Lantrip said she will take some time to learn more about the SH district before making any wholesale changes or adjustments.
“My plan is to learn during this first six months or a year,” she said. “I think it’s important to take time and learn and honor what has gone before and then figure out the best way to build.”
Back to the stack of empty boxes: Lantrip says she won’t be able to pack them during the last weeks of her time at Wayne Township because she’s the person in charge of summer school and is also responsible for helping the district secure grants. But, sometime toward the end of the month, she’ll start making the move.
“My husband and I will probably come in one night and pack everything up,” Lantrip said. “Then we’ll head to the new place and unload everything.”
She’s hoping the late-night packing session will make it somewhat easier to say goodbye to her current job before heading into what she plans to be her last stop in education before retirement.
Lantrip, 53 is slated to officially start July 1. It’s a job she’s looking forward to in a way some people might not understand.
“Education is not only my passion, but it’s also my hobby,” she said. “Some people like to fish, but I like to go to school.”