Superintendent announces retirement, new career path

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published January 24, 2017


ROYAL OAK — Shawn Lewis-Lakin received a calling this summer that is moving him toward a new life path.

Lewis-Lakin, 57, announced last week that he will retire from his position of superintendent of Royal Oak Schools effective June 30 to begin a new role serving as the senior associate pastor at Birmingham First United Methodist Church effective July 1.

Lewis-Lakin said that since August, he has been engaged in a process focused on returning to full-time service in the church.

He has been an ordained United Methodist clergyman for nearly 30 years, serving as a lead pastor at both Pontiac St. James and Trenton First, and an associate pastor at Dearborn First United Methodist Church. He has also worked as a teacher and school administrator in Trenton, Monroe, Chelsea, Manchester and Royal Oak.

A bulletin distributed by Birmingham First United Methodist Church states, “The timing of our needs at Birmingham First to find a senior associate pastor with strengths in human resources and administrative functions of the church, and Shawn’s desire to combine both his call to pastoral ministry and his experience in organizational leadership and administration has truly been a movement by God’s Holy Spirit.” 

Lewis-Lakin is a graduate of Michigan State University and also received his master of divinity degree from Yale University. In addition, he has an educational specialist degree  in general administration and supervision from Wayne State University.

“While I am excited about the new opportunity, this announcement is bittersweet,” Lewis-Lakin said. “For nearly six years, Royal Oak has been my home. Our district employees, students, families and the community of Royal Oak will always be special to me.

“Together, we have taken great strides towards making Royal Oak Schools a true community of excellence.”

Lewis-Lakin said that every stakeholder involved in the district has done good work together to inspire learning, creativity and better prepare Royal Oak students for college and careers. 

“I have truly appreciated the opportunity to serve as superintendent,” he said. “It is difficult to leave when there is such good people and such good work that is happening.”

Lewis-Lakin said he will remain committed to the district and his role through the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Lewis-Lakin said he is going with certainty and excitement into his new opportunity, but there is sadness in leaving; however, the superintendent said he knows the district is in good hands.

“I have a lot of confidence in the commitment and the capacity of our school board and our district leadership team to move through this transition — not just successfully — but in a way that actually leads us to a better place in the district and community moving forward,” he said.

Lewis-Lakin said the process to find his replacement is fully engaged.

“On behalf of the Royal Oak Schools Board of Education, we congratulate superintendent Lewis-Lakin and thank him for his hard work, dedication and service on behalf of Royal Oak Schools, students and families,” school board President Deb Anderson said in a statement. “As we wish him the best in his future endeavors, we remain proud of the work we have accomplished together.

“We have a strong foundation in place and we will continue to reach for the standard of excellence Royal Oak families demand and deserve as we begin the search for our next superintendent.”