LPS alum shares keys to 'Reaching the Least Successful'

More than 600 Lincoln Public Schools employees attended the 24th annual Multicultural Leadership Institute on Wednesday at Lincoln Southwest High School and heard from an LPS alum who has guided school districts in Oakland, Denver and Washington, D.C.

Antwan Wilson stressed several key themes to those in attendance during morning and afternoon sessions of his presentation, “Reaching the Least Successful.”

  • Students first - “A school system is only as good as the education it provides its most needy students.”
  • Excellence - “Great educators understand that all students can learn and they have the power to inspire students to reach their full potential.”
  • Equity - “Providing each student what he or she needs while holding all students to equal standards of excellence.”
  • Teamwork - “Individuals can be good. Greatness requires the support of others.”
  • Joy - “Learning should be fun. Success fuels the desire for more success. Enjoying our work with students and our collective work together helps propel us toward our goals.”

He compared the work of educators to an iceberg: “People see what you do above the surface, but you do so much more below the surface.”

Wilson was born in Wichita, Kan., before moving to Lincoln after third grade. His mother stressed academics from an early age and said the quality of Lincoln’s public schools was the reason they moved to Nebraska.

“The quality of schools that students can experience here in Lincoln is not common - it should be but it’s not,” said Wilson, who attended Hartley Elementary School, Lefler Middle School and Lincoln High School.

Wilson earned his bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University before teaching at the middle school and high school levels in Nebraska, Kansas and North Carolina. He went on to serve as associate superintendent for postsecondary readiness at Denver Public Schools, superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District and, most recently, chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system.

Throughout his experience, he’s continued to stress the “intersection of cultural proficiency and social emotional academic development,” as well as the importance of understanding our personal biases.

“It all starts with self-awareness. The more self-aware we are, the better we are in everything else we do.”

Published: May 31, 2018, Updated: May 31, 2018

"A school system is only as good as the education it provides its most needy students."

Antwan Wilson