September 22, 2023

Before he led large urban school districts on both coasts, it was in the middle of the country that Antwan Wilson first learned about the importance of education and the doors it can unlock.

It’s those same opportunities Wilson, who grew up in Lincoln, wants to give to all students as Lincoln Public Schools’ next superintendent.

“I’m focused on every student being successful,” said Wilson, a graduate of Lincoln High School and Nebraska Wesleyan University. “There are no students that we can afford to just dismiss.”

Wilson, an assistant professor at NWU and CEO of an educational consulting group, is one of four superintendent finalists meeting with the Lincoln Board of Education and community members this week.

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Answering questions Tuesday at the school district’s central office, he offered a vision of the future at LPS that’s collaborative, open and diverse — where all students, teachers and community members see themselves as part of the educational process. 

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“If you hold me to one thing, I’m a servant/leader,” Wilson said. “So I understand that my success comes through helping the people that I work with achieve success.”

As an educator, Wilson said he understands the challenges teachers have had to navigate amid the pandemic and ongoing workforce shortages and said he wants to create an “intentional pipeline” for students in LPS to get into education, like he did.

Wilson, after years as a Lincoln High Link, taught at Lincoln Northeast and schools in North Carolina and Kansas before becoming an instructional coordinator at Lincoln High.

He went on to be a middle school principal in Kansas and high school principal in Denver before serving as assistant superintendent for post-secondary readiness in Denver.

Wilson then made the jump to superintendent — first in Oakland, California, for three years and then in Washington. But Wilson’s tenure in D.C. was short-lived after he resigned a little more than a year into the job amid a controversy over the district’s competitive school lottery process.

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It was learned that Wilson’s daughter was improperly transferred to one of the district’s top-performing schools over other students on a wait list, violating a policy Wilson put in place. 

On Tuesday, Wilson said he was proud of his work in D.C., where he worked to close achievement gaps in a district of 48,000 students. In moving his daughter to a different school, Wilson said he was simply looking after her emotional well-being and had not taken the time when they first moved to find her the right school.

In that process, Wilson said he did not hide anything but regretted the attention it took away from the district. 

“I understand people having pause around that,” he said. “But, ultimately, I’m an open book, and I would be proud to be the superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools.”