There are lateral career moves, career moves that boost you far up the ladder, and moves that are even loftier. “I’m not a very religious person, but certainly doing work for Adam J. Lewis Academy feels like a higher calling, if you will,” said John Munro ’87, P’14, who will become the school’s director of advancement in August.
Adam Lewis, who was Munro’s classmate at Hamilton, was killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. His wife, Patty Dunne Lewis ’88, P’22, founded a nonprofit preschool in his memory in 2013. Its mission — provide underserved students in Bridgeport, Conn., with access to a private-school education they could not otherwise afford. At Adam J. Lewis, tuition is based on a family’s income.
Adam Lewis himself came from a modest background, and as the school explains its mission, “Adam’s life was enhanced by hard work, perseverance, and an educational opportunity provided to him at a very young age. It is the intention of the AJLA founders to give children in Bridgeport the same life-changing opportunity that Adam had, in a vibrant and exciting environment.”
The school has proved so successful that Patty Lewis, co-founder Julie Mombello, and the board decided to add a grade a year up to grade five, starting with a kindergarten in 2018-19. Munro’s job is to raise the money to pay for the school’s operation and growth. His new position slides him from one end of the education spectrum to the other. For the prior 15 years, Munro worked at Fairfield (Connecticut) Country Day School, most recently as headmaster.
A story in the Hamilton alumni magazine first put him in touch with Lewis. In College he’d known Adam Lewis casually, through common friends, but he didn’t know Patty. Roughly five years ago, as Munro was flipping through the review, he saw a story about her new school. “I finished that article; in less than three seconds I went online to Adam J. Lewis Preschool, found Patty’s email, sent her a note, introduced myself, and said I’m ready to serve,” Munro recalls.
He became a board member, helping to build a partnership between Fairfield Country Day and the preschool. Fairfield sixth-graders visit Adam J. Lewis six or eight times a year to work with the children there. As a board member, Munro knew he was making a difference, and a little more than a year ago, when he decided he wanted to move on from Fairfield, the idea of a position at another elite, private school wasn’t especially enticing. After much discussion with Lewis, taking the advancement job at made sense from both their perspectives.
Once he’d made the decision to move, he was eager to jump in full time. “Even though I’ve been doing a lot of work with the school for years,” Munro said a few weeks before he started the job, “I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and be the first one there in the morning, making the coffee and helping advance the mission of this really special little school.”