On Thursday, July 29, the Gwinnett Chamber was joined by more than 300 attendees to honor Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. Surrounded by many of his closest friends throughout his tenure, Mr. Wilbanks’ influence was palpable inside the Gas South Convention Center. Former Governor Roy Barnes touted Mr. Wilbanks’ outstanding leadership that serves as a model for other superintendents across the state and country to follow. Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson presented a Proclamation highlighting many of Mr. Wilbanks’ contributions to our schools and students. Denise Townsend, Regional Director of United Way of Greater Atlanta, presented Mr. Wilbanks with the Child Well-Being Champion Award. On behalf of Gwinnett’s 16 cities, Randy Meacham, Managing Director of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, presented Mr. Wilbanks with a canvas of each city’s most iconic landmarks. Gwinnett County Public Schools shared a video presentation recapping Mr. Wilbanks’ fulfilling career in making a difference for our students and our community.
Long before his appointment to Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent, J. Alvin Wilbanks was already making a difference in Gwinnett. Serving as the school district’s Director of Vocational and Technical Education in 1982 and then as Assistant Superintendent, during which he founded and led Gwinnett Technical College, Mr. Wilbanks recognized the rapid change and growing demand in technology. Gwinnett Tech has since grown to be the county’s largest corporate training provider. And it is with this prudence that Superintendent Wilbanks was able to lead the state’s largest public school system to new heights, including two Broad Prizes, a nationally recognized award for narrowing achievement gaps and exceeding academic standards and expectations. Like the rapid shift in the technology landscape of the 1980s, Gwinnett underwent a rapid shift in demographics in the 2000s. Mr. Wilbanks understood the growing needs and challenges of an eventual majority-minority district and focused on building a strong leadership team, establishing organizational coherence, investing in teacher recruitment and retainment, exploring innovative pilot programs and collaborating with community stakeholders.
When businesses across the globe look to expand their operations, they evaluate the strength of the local school system. Few places in the world can claim to have multiple STEM/STEAM schools, a student body that speaks more than 100 languages, and a school system that develops the best and the brightest year by year. The Gwinnett Chamber and the business community thanks Mr. Wilbanks for leading our public school system to a world-class reputation.