New Springwood Head of School Lowrie McCown looks to improve on Springwood’s success
LANETT — Lowrie McCown wants to take a high-achieving private school and make it even better.
McCown, who was named Springwood School’s Head of School in July, is focused on creating leaders that will transform the marketplace for the next generation.
“What better place to do that than in an educational context?” McCown said. “If you can plant those seeds early in the minds of young people, when they go off to college and off into their careers, you have a chance to lay some foundational work that will launch them into some significant opportunities.”
Springwood’s 50th year started this past Thursday, and McCown said he’s glad everything got off to a good start. He said the relationship with the faculty has been good, and there’s been positive communication with the Chattahoochee Valley Educational Foundation Board of Trustees.
“I am just being me, which means high energy, and giving everybody the answers to the questions they need and really trying to empower the staff,” McCown said.
McCown’s most recent educational experience includes seven years as the Associate Head of School at King’s Ridge Christian School in Atlanta. King’s Ridge is a private school that grew from 620 to 850 students during McCown’s tenure and is co-founded by former Braves pitcher John Smoltz.
McCown replaced Rick Johnson as headmaster. Johnson left for another job after seven years at Springwood.
McCown has spent the past 10 years in an educational setting but said his whole career has been in youth development and leadership development.
“This really fits my personal why, and my personal desire to pour into the next generation of leaders,” he said.
He said the K-12 education isn’t just about getting students ready for college anymore. It is about helping students understand their career options. He said it’s also about bridging the gap between the senior year of high school to college and how to launch students into careers.
McCown is aware of Springwood’s rich academic history, as well as its most recent success. Springwood has won the President’s Award four out of the past five years, which is the highest academic award handed out by the Alabama Independent Schools Association. Springwood has won the award six times overall, which is the second-most of any school in the AISA.
McCown said he wants to keep that success going.
“What I have learned is my strength is taking an organization to the next level, and I stand on the shoulders of those who gone before me,” he said. “It is not broke. It is about how to make it better.”
McCown called himself a “next-level guy,” meaning he wants to expand upon Springwood’s success and make it more dynamic.
One of the attractions of Springwood that brought McCown to the job was the international boarding school. Johnson and his wife in 2018 started the International House on Springwood’s campus. The school reshaped one of the classroom buildings and turned it into a dormitory-style facility, with 30 beds for international students.
McCown said he wants to create a global atmosphere at Springwood where students are learning to relate to people from different cultures, so they build relationships that will catapult them later in life.
“How do we help our students learn to relate naturally to a culture that is not their native culture?” McCown said. “Typically, people stay kind of cloistered in their native cultures where they are comfortable. So, it is building rapport and day students to engage with international students.”
He said the school has international students on several of its athletic programs and instituted a robotics program with more than 30 students from the seventh grade and up.
Another part of McCown’s plan is to increase Springwood’s visibility even more.
“Springwood is a pretty well-kept secret,” McCown said. “It is known in the Valley, but how do we get it known outside of the Valley and how does that help our admissions?”
He said Springwood isn’t an elitist private school where anybody can write a check and send their kids to school. He said it’s a school for students who are capable of doing the academic work of a private school.
“We rely on financial aid a lot of the times,” McCown said. “There are people who are making significant sacrifices to send their kid to school here.”
He said Springwood wants to be a difference maker and be able to give students a boost when leaving the school.
“We want to say the kids that come here want to get prepared for their career, want to work hard, get the academic standing to get into the school of their choice, and have the career that fits their personality and skills,” McCown said.