Message from the CEO/Superintendent on the GCPS Vision for Leadership

  • Portrait of J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent"Everything rises and falls on leadership." This maxim holds true for any size or type of organization— Fortune 500 company, healthcare system, bank, local government, religious institution, retail franchise... you name it. Leadership is the fundamental element that can drive an organization to phenomenal success; lack of leadership can anchor it solidly in mediocrity, or worse. After more than 40 years in education, I am certain that this principle also holds true for schools and school systems. In fact, quite a bit of research validates the correlation. Numerous studies on what makes a school successful say that the single, most-important factor is the effectiveness of the principal as the instructional leader.

    Not just anyone can be a successful principal today. The demands of the job are great and require exceptional expertise. With enrollments of 1,000 to 3,000 students, staffs as large as 300 people, sizable local budgets, and key performance goals that must be achieved, a principal in Gwinnett is essentially the CEO of a good-sized company.

    To be effective, a principal must have knowledge, skills, and talent that cannot be acquired in college courses alone, and cannot be mastered  without opportunities to learn from outstanding leaders in the profession. That is why Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) launched its “Quality-Plus Leader Academy” (QPLA) Aspiring Principal Program.

    Through the program, aspiring principals become students again in a customized leadership development program designed to ensure the district has the caliber of principals needed for the future. Note from the academy’s title that we are not seeking “quality” leaders, but “quality-plus”  leaders. Quality-Plus Leaders have certain characteristics. They are energetic in pursuing the organization’s mission and goals, and they can energize others to do the same. They are results-oriented, and view accountability as a value.

    In other words, they focus on results, not activity, and are willing to be held accountable for the results that they and their team achieve. Quality-plus leaders also lead by example, modeling the behaviors desired in others, and they consistently turn vision into reality.

    Schools must have a Quality-Plus Leader if they are to be effective with today’s changing conditions and rising expectations. To ensure we have such leaders in every Gwinnett school, we are committed to devoting the time, resources, and attention necessary to develop Quality-Plus  Leaders among our employees. After all, everything rises and falls on leadership.
    Picture of J. Alvin Wilbanks signature
    J. Alvin Wilbanks