West Philadelphia principal named national principal of the year

Walter Perez Image
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
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His name is Richard Gordon, and what he has done as the principal of Paul Robeson High School for Human Services in West Philadelphia borders on the miraculous.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- His name is Richard Gordon, and what he has done as the principal of Paul Robeson High School for Human Services in West Philadelphia borders on the miraculous.

Gordon has been with The Philadelphia School District since 2013.

During this time, he has successfully transformed the school, which was once among The School District of Philadelphia's 30 lowest-performing schools and in danger of facing permanent closure.

Since then, Robeson was designated as a 'High Progress' school by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which later removed the school from the commonwealth's list of academically high needs/ lowest-performing schools.

Gordon has also been credited with developing a model program for college and career readiness, achieving a 95 percent graduation rate.

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. says Gordon's commitment to serving children and families is the driving force behind his success at Robeson.

"From the moment he arrived at the district, principal Gordon's enthusiasm for creating a positive learning and instructional environment has yielded wonderful results," Hite said. "We are thrilled to see him receive this recognition and look forward to even greater success for his students and the entire school community."

Robert Motley, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, agreed, adding that the award is annually presented to a principal whose leadership creates high-quality learning opportunities for students that ultimately result in significant improvements for their school communities.

"Any school turnaround is hard, and it takes a special leader to sustain it," Motley said. "But principal Gordon has led Robeson high school's extraordinary turnaround keeping the success and well-being of his students as a top priority. Under his leadership, Robeson has been a model for other schools to follow, and we are excited to celebrate his success with principals across the country."

The NASSP Principal of the Year program recognizes outstanding middle level and high school principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students and demonstrated exemplary contributions to the profession.

Each year, NASSP honors State Principals of the Year from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools, and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity.

Out of these exceptional school leaders, three are selected as finalists, and one is ultimately selected for the National Principal of the Year award.

This year's finalists include Adam Clemons of Piedmont High School in Piedmont, AL; and Michelle Kefford, formerly of Charles Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, FL, now principal of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

Gordon is now one of only three principals from Pennsylvania ever to receive this national distinction, along with Kevin McHugh of the Pennsbury School District in 2002 and Michael Pladus of the Interboro School District in 1999.