RALEIGH, NC (April 7, 2015) – Former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. and Former First Lady Carolyn Hunt today were named the recipients of the 2015 Public School Forum of North Carolina Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award. The award was established by the Public School in 2000 to recognize exemplary leaders who have made outstanding contributions to public education. The award is given annually to anyone who has displayed innovative, creative, effective leadership for public education in North Carolina. Governor and Mrs. Hunt will be honored at a gala event on Monday, June 8, 2015 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in Downtown Raleigh. BB&T is the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s event.
“Jim and Carolyn Hunt exemplify all the characteristics we look for in selecting our annual award recipients including dedication, leadership and courage in supporting public education in North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Priddy, Chairman of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. “It would be difficult to imagine any other individuals who have had a greater positive impact on education in this state than Jim and Carolyn Hunt.”
The nation’s first “education governor,” Jim Hunt is a nationally recognized leader in education, and he has been at the forefront of state and national education reform. He served an historic four terms as governor of North Carolina, and early childhood education was a primary focus of his agenda. Among his many successes in education, his early education program, Smart Start, has been emulated by states across the nation and received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Hunt also focused on the improvement of teaching quality, set high standards for K-12 public schools, and was a national leader in ensuring rigorous accountability for student performance. In the 1980s, Hunt and the Carnegie Corporation of New York created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which he chaired for 10 years. North Carolina has more nationally board certified teachers than any other state in the nation.
In the last decade of his governorship, the schools of North Carolina increased NAEP scores more than any other state in America. At the end of his tenure as Governor, he had led North Carolina in raising teacher pay to the national average—an increase of one third in his last four years. His work has been recognized with numerous national awards, and in 2006, he was named one of the 10 most influential people in American education, along with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Former First Lady Carolyn Hunt is a public education champion in her own right. In addition to being Governor Hunt’s strongest advocate and partner, Mrs. Hunt is a former classroom teacher. She was a strong advocate for education and women’s issues throughout her husband’s terms as Governor, particularly early childhood education. Mrs. Hunt was a regular fixture at Wiley Elementary School in Raleigh where she volunteered her time teaching children to read, and she encouraged her husband to be a weekly school volunteer. Mrs. Hunt ran successfully for the Wilson County School Board where she served one term.
The award is named in honor of the late Dr. Jay Robinson, one of our state’s most distinguished education leaders. His career spanned 50 years, beginning as a math teacher and basketball and football coach in Cabarrus County, becoming a school principal and later superintendent of schools in first Cabarrus and then Charlotte-Mecklenburg school systems. He served as vice president for public affairs and special projects for the University of North Carolina system and chaired the State Board of Education. He was also the first president of the Public School Forum and served as an Emeritus Member of the Board until his death in April 2000.
Information about tickets and sponsorships for this year’s event and previous award recipients can be found here: https://www.ncforum.org/programs/jay-robinson-leadership-award/.
Event tickets can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-school-forum-of-north-carolinas-2015-jay-robinson-education-leadership-award-gala-tickets-16336578145