J. Alvin Wilbanks was named chief executive officer and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools in March, 1996. At that time he was serving concurrently as the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Continuous Improvement and as President of Gwinnett Technical College, which he opened as its president in 1984.
Mr. Wilbanks came to Gwinnett County from the Georgia Department of Education’s Industrial Development Unit. He has traveled extensively abroad promoting technical/vocational education, and the US and International Skills Olympics. He also was employed as a teacher and administrator in DeKalb County Schools for a number of years.
Since 2000, two Georgia governors and the United States Secretary of Education have called on his expertise in crafting significant education reform legislation at the state and federal levels. Mr. Wilbanks serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Teacher Retirement System, and was elected the first chairman of the Georgia Education Coalition, formed in 2006 to give school districts a unified voice with the state’s Legislature on funding and educational policy issues.
Under Mr. Wilbanks’ leadership, Gwinnett County Public Schools has earned a reputation as one of the most successful school districts in the country. The district is a three-time finalist and two-time winner of the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education.The Broad Prize honors urban school districts making the greatest progress nationwide in raising student achievement and reducing achievement gaps among ethnic groups and between low- and non-low-income students. It is the largest education award in the country. GCPS was recognized as a finalist in 2009, 2010, and 2014. The school district was named the winner of The 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education and co-winner of The 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education, distinguishing GCPS as one of the best urban school districts in the nation. In addition to its recognition as a Broad Prize winner, GCPS has garnered other national attention. In fact, under Mr. Wilbanks' leadership, the school system was one of the first school systems to join the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium which seeks to significantly advance systemic education improvement and innovation in policy and practice to benefit all students. The Consortium works collaboratively to prepare students for college, career and citizenship by drawing upon the successful practices of large and diverse countywide and suburban school districts to inform federal and national policy. Mr. Wilbanks has served as co-chair of The Consortium which includes 16 of the most successful school systems in the nation.
Mr. Wilbanks has won numerous honors and awards for his professional accomplishments and civic contributions. He was named “2005 Georgia Superintendent of the Year” and one of four finalists for “2005 National Superintendent of the Year.” The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce awarded him its highest honor, “2005 Citizen of the Year,” and the Boy Scouts of America presented him with its “Distinguished Citizen Award” in 2008. Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful awarded him its highest honor, the “Environmental Legacy Award,” in January 2012. Mr. Wilbanks is a leader in many civic organizations including the Gwinnett County Board of Public Health, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Lawrenceville Rotary Club, the American Cancer Society, the Northeast Georgia Council-Boy Scouts of America, and the Council for Quality Growth. He is a graduate of the first class of Leadership Gwinnett. In October of 2014, the Gwinnett County Board of Education recognized Mr. Wilbanks' service and commitment to the education of Gwinnett children by renaming the school system's main office the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center.
Mr. Wilbanks earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Georgia, and his education specialist degree from Georgia State University. He is a member of several professional organizations and is a leader in his church. He and his wife have two daughters and five grandchildren.