PHILADELPHIA – Board of Education President Joyce S. Wilkerson received the Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award today for her longstanding commitment to the educational needs of urban school children. The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) presents this award each year to recognize current or former school board members who have made a difference for the students they serve.
During her six-year tenure with the School District, Ms. Wilkerson guided the School District’s transition from the state-controlled School Reform Commission to the locally controlled Board of Education in 2018. The Board then oversaw the transformation of a District in fiscal and academic distress to one that improved educational outcomes for students, while it developed strong financial management, attaining an investment grade rating from Moody’s Investor Services for the first time since 1977.
Under Ms. Wilkerson’s leadership, the Board has developed partnerships that have generated additional support for students and has made investments to advance the Board’s strategic plan, known as Goals & Guardrails. In 2019, Ms. Wilkerson led the Board’s work to create and implement Goals & Guardrails, a plan designed to increase student achievement while providing the necessary conditions that support learning.
Most recently, Ms. Wilkerson participated in the Board’s six-month search for a new Superintendent. Under the leadership of Board Vice President Leticia Egea-Hinton, the Board conducted extensive community outreach, hired an executive search firm and appointed a Superintendent Search Advisory Committee that included voices of diverse communities in the search process. The search culminated in the appointment of Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D, who has 27 years of educational experience and a proven track record of supporting the objectives found in Goals & Guardrails.
The award was announced at the National School Board Association Conference in Miami on December 9, 2022. Next, The American School Board Journal plans to publish in early January an article focusing on Ms. Wilkerson’s leadership in public education and her commitment to improving student achievement and ensuring equitable opportunities for all students to learn, thrive and succeed.
The award is named for Benjamin Elijah Mays, who joined the Atlanta Board of Education in 1969 and served as its President from 1970 to 1981. During his tenure on the Board, Mr. Mays worked tirelessly to provide equal educational opportunities for children. He is remembered for his outstanding leadership and service as a scholar, teacher, minister, mentor, author and civil rights activist.
About the Board of Education
The Board of Education is the governing body responsible for overseeing all policies and budgetary decisions of the School District of Philadelphia. Additionally, the Board of Education serves as the authorizer for all charter schools in Philadelphia. The Board comprises nine Board Members who are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council.