John R. Lewis Leadership Program

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously supported the creation of the John R. Lewis Leadership Program at Lewis High School at their work session on December 14, 2021. View the video of the School Board presentation or the PowerPoint. Read the full news story.

The Lewis Leadership Program adopts the principles of Congressman John Lewis’ life through a curriculum that focuses on government, public policy, leadership, and human rights. This innovative program is designed to infuse the core curriculum so all students of John R. Lewis High School have the opportunity to explore concepts within their classes. Interested students may become more involved through field experiences, guest speakers, service learning, specialized coursework, internships, and university partnerships.

The Lewis Leadership Program is proposed to be a full-time enrollment program, modeled after the Edison Global STEM Challenges Program. The development of a program of this scale will be a multi-year initiative requiring long-term commitment and additional financial support.

Features of Proposed Program

  • Inclusive- Learning experiences designed to be accessible for all students, embedded in the core curriculum, and compatible with the IB program
  • Experiential- Regular opportunities for students to connect with people and places beyond the school walls
  • Relevant- A focus on student engagement and connections with the past and present
  • Ethical- Concepts for civic education such as service and leadership explored across content areas
  • Multifaceted- Three levels of participation to match student interest
    • Level 1: Concept-based learning for ALL students through Core Curriculum Innovation
    • Level 2: Students could choose deeper engagement in community and inquiry-based service-learning experience for civic education
    • Level 3: Interested students could select specialized coursework that culminates in opportunities for internships and college credit in fields related to civic leadership and public policy. Courses would be designed to support access to rigor and relevance for all students.

Next Steps

A team of school-based and central office staff members, Lewis High School student leaders, and community members from the Bipartisan Leadership Project met during the summer of 2021 to explore opportunities for an academy at Lewis High School. Consultations with GMU Carter School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, the Bipartisan Leadership Project, Lewis Academy Now, and student voices continue throughout the process.

Continued work includes: 

  • Engaging students, staff, families, and community partners to finalize the essential program standards/components 
  • Conducting curriculum development; establishing university partnerships and career/community connections for specialized coursework; completing a professional development plan 
  • Establishing a budget of $377K (FY23) to develop specialized programming such as coordination of internships, curriculum work, and professional development. Funds specifically provide for the following: 
    • Program manager to coordinate planning among Lewis staff, central office specialists, and community partners 
    • Work-based learning teacher to establish partnerships and incorporate work-based learning into the curriculum 
    • Lewis HS staff release time to provide embedded time for collaborative design of curriculum and experiential learning 
    • Student experiences, including events and transportation 
  • Exploring how program development could support other Fairfax County public schools


  • SY 21-22: Stakeholder Engagement- Activities may include discussion groups, surveys, town halls
  • SY 22-23: Core Curriculum Innovation and Program Development- Expansion of Lewis Legacy Project; curriculum mapping and development; establish university partnerships, career connections, professional development; begin introduction of Level 1 and 2 experiences
  • SY 23-24: Course Enrollment (Level 3)- Specialized course offerings such as Human Rights, Public Policy, Internship
  • SY 24-25: Program Expansion- Additional specialized offerings