Dr. Ann Levett, who has announced her retirement effective June 30, 2023, met with reporters at a press conference Wednesday to discuss her accomplishments and her future plans. Levett, the 24th superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, spoke about her roots in this community, and how she hopes she represents the “power of possibility" to students throughout the district.
“When I walked across the stage as a high school graduate, I had no idea that one day I would leave this city, travel extensively in the US and Europe, and return here and ultimately become Superintendent," Levett said. “I was – and I remain – a teacher. And everything I've done here has been for the students. To show students that hard work and persistence can help you achieve your goals is important. I think I've done that."
A graduate of Alfred E. Beach High School, Dr. Levett has served as a professional educator since 1976, beginning her career at as a speech and language pathologist in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. She served as principal at Savannah High School, before leaving to pursue other professional opportunities. She became acting superintendent in Dayton, Ohio, before moving on to higher education positions at Antioch University, Yale University School of Medicine and Middle Georgia State College. Dr. Levett also served as a board of education member for New Haven Public Schools.
Levett returned to Savannah in 2013 to assume the post of Chief Academic Officer. She turned her attention immediately to galvanizing resources - human and otherwise - to improve student achievement. Cohort graduation rates improved, career tech offerings were expanded, access to advanced and dual enrollment courses increased, and partnerships were strengthened. She was named Superintendent in 2017. Asked what her “proudest moment" had been during her tenure, Dr. Levett said, “It would be hard to name just one…we've had so many great moments here at SCCPSS! And it isn't just me…we have 5600 employees who ALL care about the success of our students!" She went on to enumerate dozens of accomplishments from the establishment of food pantries and uniform closets to the creation or business partnerships such as the Community Clinic at Beach High School that have yielded instructional opportunities and experiences for “her scholars," as she affectionately refers to SCCPSS' 36,000 students. “One thing that has really made me proud," she went on, “is the creation of the Early Learning Centers for our youngest learners."
Under Levett's leadership, the district has created early learning centers for students as young as 3 years of age, noting centers at Gould, Formey, and Oatland Island Wildlife Center. In Georgia, children are not required to attend school until age 6. Dr. Levett lamented that by the time some children enter traditional school, they are behind those who attended Pre-K or Kindergarten, and often those gaps are difficult to overcome. “We have launched a literacy initiative to combat those gaps," she said. “Just this morning, we were celebrating our partnership with Curtis V. Cooper and our literacy initiative which will provide books and educational support materials to children being seen at their annual wellness checkups." Finally, Dr. Levett thanked the community for their support of ESPLOST with over 74% of Chatham County voters approving the last referendum. “ESPLOST has allowed us to continue to develop our facilities and build new schools so that we can give our students safe and functioning schools."
Dr. Levett praised her staff for their support and commitment to the common goal of providing high quality educational experiences for all students in the district. She also thanked the Board – many of whom were in attendance – for their willingness to serve the community and our schools. She went on to say that many people do not understand what goes on “behind the scenes" and that board members are not always in agreement, but they work together to provide the very best possible educational opportunities for our students. “What I believe we have modeled for our students is that while we may disagree sometimes, we do it in a civil manner…we show our scholars how to compromise and work together for the common good."
The search for a new superintendent will be the responsibility of the Board of Public Education. Dr. Levett expressed her confidence that whatever path the Board chooses, it will be done with the welfare of students in mind. And she promised that she would continue to stay abreast of the school system actions, watch board meetings, and continue to advocate for all students. She plans to spend time with her family, especially her grandchildren, and she does not intend to leave Savannah. “This is my home. This decision was Ann's choice. I could have retired in June of 2020, June of 2021, June of 2022…but June of 2023 is the right time. I am confident that the district is stable, has a solid foundation, and is prepared to continue moving forward with a new leader at the helm."
Dr. Levett is a published author, nationally known speaker, and consultant on international educational projects. In 2015, she was recognized for her accomplishments in Education by the Georgia Senate. Levett was named a “Superintendent to Watch" by the National School Public Relations Association, 2021 Georgia Carl Perkins awardee, 2020 University of Georgia College of Education Lifetime Achievement awardee, 2019 Georgia Outstanding Woman, and 2019 Georgia Department of Education's STEM and STEAM Advocate of the Year.