The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has honored Jerrelle Francois, a former board of education member from Maryland’s Baltimore City Public Schools, with the 2013 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award.
Francois, who has more than a half century of service in education, received the award October 5 at the 2013 CUBE Annual Conference in San Antonio. The 2013 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is supported by NSBA’s corporate partner, Sodexo, which has graciously underwritten the awards ceremony.
“The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award honors school board leaders who work tirelessly to improve urban education,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Jerrelle Francois’s leadership has made a difference in the education of thousands of students who have attended Baltimore City Public Schools. We appreciate her dedication to the students, the school board, and the community.”
Baltimore City Public Schools has 85,000 students, 10,000 employees, and 195 schools.
Francois was appointed to the Baltimore school board in 2004 and served until 2013. One of Francois’s proudest accomplishments was her work with the school board on developing a new 10-year strategic plan which launched an aggressive reform effort to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college, career training, and life success in the 21st century. The Baltimore City school district received the 2010 CUBE Annual Award for Urban Education Excellence.
During her board tenure, Francois was a champion for promoting improved communications with parents and the community. Francois was instrumental in establishing the school system’s Office of Partnerships, Communications, and Community Engagement.
“I am honored to receive the Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award and proud of my nine years of school board service to Baltimore City Public Schools,” said Jerrelle Francois. “I know how important school board members are in shaping the direction of a successful school system that is advancing student achievement for all students.”
Over the years, Francois has experienced the challenges of public education from all angles—as teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, university instructor, and most recently as an education consultant at Learn It Systems.
“Jerrelle Francois’s school board service demonstrates outstanding leadership and a strong vision for improving education for students in Baltimore,” said Frances Hughes Glendening, Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. “Baltimore City Public Schools is a true urban district success story, proving that solid leadership at the board level results in advancing student achievement.”
The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who demonstrate a long-standing commitment to the educational needs of urban schoolchildren through school board service. Benjamin Elijah Mays, whom the award honors, was a teacher, minister, author, and civil rights activist who served as president of Morehouse College and the Atlanta school board from 1970 to 1981.
The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) is NSBA’s program supporting urban school boards and fostering effective leadership for excellence and equity in public education, with a specific focus on underrepresented students. CUBE provides educational opportunities that engage urban school districts and district leaders, working through their state school boards association, while addressing challenges in urban centers. CUBE represents nearly 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion.
For more information about CUBE and the Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award, please visit www.nsba.org/cube.