COLUMBUS, OH – J. Alvin Wilbanks, chief executive officer and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) in Georgia, is this year’s recipient of the Excellence in Literacy Leadership Award Presented by the Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders.
This prestigious award is given to individuals not trained in Reading Recovery who have displayed a strong commitment to expand and maintain its high standards, and who have made significant contributions to implementation beyond the local level. The award will be presented to Mr. Wilbanks during the 2017 National Reading Recovery & K-6 Literacy Conference on Monday, January 30.
A longtime educator whose career has bridged from K-12 to postsecondary, Mr. Wilbanks was named to his current position in 1996. He is the longest serving school superintendent in a large, urban district in the United States, and under his leadership the Gwinnett district has earned a reputation as one of the most successful in the country. The Broad Foundation selected GCPS as a finalist for the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education three times—in 2009, 2010, and 2014—and awarded Gwinnett the Broad Prize in 2010 and 2014.
As superintendent, Mr. Wilbanks has been tapped by three Georgia governors and two United States Secretaries of Education to help craft significant education-reform legislation at the state and federal levels. He has won numerous honors for his professional accomplishments and civic contributions, including being named “2005 Georgia Superintendent of the Year” and one of four finalists for the national title, and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce “2005 Citizen of the Year.” He is the recipient of the Boy Scouts of America’s 2008 “Distinguished Citizen Award;” Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful’s 2012 “Environmental Legacy Award;” and the University of Georgia College of Education’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2016. Most recently he was chosen by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators as its honoree for the annual “A PAGE Turning Event” that recognizes outstanding business and civic leaders for their contributions to public education in Georgia. 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.
Gwinnett County Public Schools and its 139 schools and other educational facilities serve more than 178,000 students in metro Atlanta. More than 12,000 students have received Reading Recovery Lessons since the program was introduced in Gwinnett in 1994. Today, Reading Recovery is implemented in all 80 elementary schools. The district has trained more than 300 Reading Recovery teachers, many of whom have gone on to serve in state, county, and local school leadership roles. Besides their Reading Recovery students, trained teachers also work as literacy coaches and Title I small-group teachers. A significant number of Reading Recovery students are English language learners; 46% spoke a language other than English in 2015–2016 and more than 20 native languages are represented.
“Unlike some literacy programs that do not live up to their advance billing, Reading Recovery delivers the promised results,” Mr. Wilbanks said. “The research-based strategies have proven to be effective not only in teaching struggling youngsters to read, but in equipping them with reading skills that last over the years. That means the dollars invested for Reading Recovery are a beneficial investment of our instructional resources.”
About the Reading Recovery Council of North America
The Reading Recovery Council of North America (RRCNA) is a not-for-profit association of Reading Recovery professionals and partners. The Council provides a network of professional development opportunities and is an advocate for Reading Recovery in the United States and Canada. Based in Worthington, OH, RRCNA is celebrating 20 years of dedicated service to Reading Recovery and early literacy professionals.
About Reading Recovery
More than 2.3 million struggling first-graders in North America have benefitted from the one-to-one teaching expertise of Reading Recovery professionals. The intervention, introduced to North America in 1984 by educators at The Ohio State University, has more research proving its effectiveness than any other beginning reading program.
Vicki S. Fox, RRCNA director of communications
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