A Detroit educator known for his leadership in implementing an African-centered curriculum designed to help African-American students understand their heritage and how they can incorporate it into their lives for future success has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The winner, Dr. Jeffery D. Robinson, is the principal of the Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy in Detroit. The pre-kindergarten through eighth grade academy, which is the first public school program in the nation to offer students an African-centered curriculum.
The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards in 2014 to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state during the school year.
Winners of the weekly award receive a plaque, a $500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or school district. One of the weekly winners will be selected as the Educator of the Year and will receive a $10,000 cash prize.
Each winner also will be featured in a news segment on the Lottery’s media partner stations: WXYZ-TV in Detroit, FOX 17 in Grand Rapids, and FOX 47 in Lansing. The news segment featuring Robinson will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and then on Thursday in Detroit.
For the Excellence in Education awards program, the Lottery has teamed up with Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo. Izzo met recently with Robinson at the Breslin Center and presented him with the award.
Robinson said his favorite part of being an educator is “watching the development of young minds and how that development leads to children becoming productive members of society.”
Robinson has been an educator for 24 years, 23 of them with the Detroit Public Schools. He has been the principal of the Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy for the past six years. He said the example of the late Dr. Clifford Watson led him to pursue an education career. Watson, who founded the Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy, “was a very impactful in mentoring and modeling educational philosophy and school pedagogy,” Robinson said.
He said his students motivate him to do his best each day. “Children today need so many things and deserve educators who realize what those things are and are committed to doing what is needed for them to be successful and productive,” he said. “Children deserve educators who realize that part of their work is about introducing students to all of the wondrous possibilities for their lives.”
A parent and grandparent of former students at the academy nominated Robinson for the Excellence in Education award. The nomination cited his commitment to the African-centered curriculum and the academy’s record of sending large numbers of students on to Detroit’s top high schools.
The nomination noted Robinson’s statements in a recent article that “African-centered education is about teaching children to have full pride in who they are, their culture, their heritage, and also to ensure that culture and heritage is respected, not trampled or walked over or found to be insignificant.
“African-Americans have some of the richest histories and cultures of anyone in the world. We want our students to know that they descend from a line of kings and queens,” Robinson went on to say. “It’s only when students know where they came from that they are able to know where they can go from here. We’re teaching our children to have full pride in their heritage, to learn and incorporate that heritage into who they are, and into the adults they will become. And most importantly, once they receive an education, they are duty-bound to come back and give back.”
Robinson earned a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University and master of arts degree in educational administration from the University of Detroit-Mercy. He also earned a doctorate in African-American and African studies from Michigan State University.
Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at http://bit.ly/ExcellenceInEducation or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.
Excellence in Education award nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Excellence – Their work consistently helps students and/or their schools or school districts advance to higher levels of academic achievement.
- Dedication – They consistently go above and beyond expectations to help students succeed.
- Inspiration – Their work inspires others around them to exceed expectations either academically or professionally.
- Leadership – They demonstrate clear leadership skills in their positions with their school or school districts
Effectiveness – The nominee’s work has clear and positive results on the educational advancement of students within the school or school district.