Gwinnett superintendent one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year

Gwinnett superintendent one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year

Gwinnett CEO/Superintendent J.Alvin Wilbanks was one of four finalists for 2005 National Superintendent of the Year. He is only the second Georgia winner to become a finalist in the history of the National Superintendent of the Year Program. Mr. Wilbanks was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year on Dec. 3.

The national winner-- Dr. Monte Moses of Cherry Creek School District in Greenwood Village, Colorado-- was honored at the American Association of School Administrators' National Conference on Education in San Antonio, Texas on February 18. Mr. Wilbanks and the other finalists were recognized at the conference, as well.

Gwinnett is the largest school system in Georgia and one of the 20 largest and fastest-growing systems in the nation. Enrollment this year topped the 136,000-student mark, about 6,500 more students than last year. The system operates 106 schools/educational facilities, having opened 18 new schools in the past two years. GCPS is recognized throughout the state, regionally, and nationally as being a highly successful and desirable public school system. It has earned an enviable reputation for providing a quality and effective education to an ever-larger, ever-changing student population.

J. Alvin Wilbanks is a well-respected, visionary leader. Long before the mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Georgia’s A+ Education Reform Law, Gwinnett—under Mr. Wilbanks’ leadership—was well on its way to implementing an accountability model for its schools and system departments. He was selected by then- Governor Roy Barnes to serve on his influential Education Reform Study Commission, which shaped Georgia’s current education law. In 2002, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige tapped Mr. Wilbanks to be the only school system superintendent to serve on the negotiated rulemaking committee on Title I standards and accountability under NCLB. In 2004, he was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue to the Education Finance Task Force that will recommend revisions to the Quality Basic Education Act, the state’s school funding formula. In addition, he is held in the highest regard by the Gwinnett business community, which consistently praises the quality of the public schools as the primary factor in attracting new businesses to Gwinnett.

Mr. Wilbanks firmly believes that superintendents today need to be prepared to both lead and manage the educational, operational, and political processes that come with being chief executive officer of a large, complex organization. He says, “Teaching and learning is the core business of education, but superintendents also are charged with effective operational management in the areas of finance, transportation, capital programs, human resources, nutrition, and community relations. An essential task for any superintendent is to build and develop a quality leadership team that supports the work of the system in achieving its mission and goals. That said, one of the most important things I do as superintendent is to ensure our schools have quality-plus leaders-- leaders who demonstrate excellence in the application of knowledge, skills, and talents in support of the vision, mission, and goals of Gwinnett County Public Schools.”

A veteran educator with more than 40 years of service, Mr. Wilbanks has worked at the local system level as a teacher and an administrator and at the state level. His career in Gwinnett began in 1984, when he opened and served as the first president of Gwinnett Technical College (1984-96). In addition, he served as the school system’s assistant superintendent of occupational and continuing education (1984-94) and assistant superintendent of human resources and continuous improvement (1994-96). He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia, and holds an educational specialist degree from Georgia State University. He is a leader in a number of civic, community, and professional organizations, including service on the board of directors for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts of America (Northeast Georgia Council), and the Gwinnett County Board of Public Health.

The National Superintendent of the Year program was established in 1988 and is co-sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators and ARAMARK ServiceMaster Facility Services. Each year, the award is bestowed on a superintendent who has demonstrated all-around outstanding leadership. The four national finalists received cash awards and medallions, and the national winner was presented a $10,000 scholarship to a deserving student from his own high school alma mater.