Michael Lewis

Halifax County High School Principal Michael Lewis was named director of student services/accountability effective last week. However, he said he’ll stay in his principal post until a new successor is named.

Halifax County High School Principal Michael Lewis is taking on a new role in Halifax County Public Schools’ central office this year.

He has been named director of student services/accountability, effective last week.

“Moving into this role is another opportunity to serve the students and people of Halifax County. I’m excited about it,” Lewis said. “In this role I will be able to engage with students across the entire county, not just at the high school. I look forward to working with all the schools and principals in the Halifax County Public Schools.”

The role of student services previously was held by Jeffrey Davis, who now has the job of director of human resources for the school system. In addition to assuming his new responsibilities, Lewis said he also would continue in his role as HCHS principal until his successor is selected, saying he would stay at the school “as long as they need me to.”

Lewis has been an administrator at HCHS for seven years, first serving as assistant principal, then moving up to associate principal and eventually, school principal. He has been an administrator with HCPS for 17 years and has a total of 23 years of service in the school system, starting out as a teacher.

“Being an educator has been a blessing,” Lewis remarked.

While Lewis said he looks forward to taking on a new challenge in the school system’s central office, Halifax County High will always hold a special place in his heart.

“The high school is a special place to me. It’s a great place to work, and I’ll miss it,” he said. “It’s been about the students, staff and community for me. People have been great to me in this service role; they’ve helped me in so many different ways.”

Lewis’ advice to the incoming principal of HCHS is to be receptive to the school staff and listen to their feedback to help guide them in making the right decisions for the school. Above all, Lewis said the high school principal has to have the desire to be around young people in a pivotal moment in their lives, which he has had the opportunity to do.

“It’s a special time to be there and see young people mature and grow,” Lewis related. “You get to see students come in as 9th graders unsure of themselves. By the 12th grade, they begin to make decisions about their future. You get to share those times and memories with them.”

Lewis shared one of the greatest rewards of his job has been seeing his students mature throughout high school, and later on, seeing them out in the community and hearing about their accomplishments, and being invited to their weddings and introduced to their children.

The job of high school principal is not only rewarding but also challenging, Lewis said. He recalled many times when he spent both the day and the evening at the high school, when the Comets football team was playing home games, and on the occasions of chorus and band performances. Although the days were long, Lewis said he always enjoyed the opportunity to watch students showcase what they had learned.

In addition to the everyday responsibilities all school principals face, the incoming HCHS principal also will lead the students and staff in ushering in a new era, as a new school building is constructed. If everything goes according to plan, the new school will open its doors to students in the fall of 2025.

Lewis has been outspoken in his view that a new high school building is necessary to serve students’ instructional needs in a safe environment. He has noted that the structural design of the current school, built in the late 1970s, makes it difficult to monitor students’ behavior, and the lack of technology in the classrooms presents instructional challenges.

“I would like our students to have the benefits of a modern learning environment that is safe and has the modern technology to be competitive with surrounding counties and the country,” Lewis stated in a July 2021 interview with the Gazette prior to legislators’ visits to the high school as part of a statewide “Crumbling Schools Tour.” “In a new structure, student learning environments would be designed by students, parents and teachers to best serve our students and have the modern learning infrastructure needed to compete with other students.”

Last week, the Halifax County School Board approved a selection committee’s recommendation of Richmond-based firm Shockey & Sons to function as the contractor, or more formally Construction Manager At Risk, for the high school construction project. Shockey & Sons will work with the architects, Grimm + Parker, to land on a guaranteed price for the high school and deliver the finished product, an approximately 250,000-square-foot building. The target budget for the new high school is $109 million.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.