Two dedicated urban educators have been awarded the 2017 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE).

Vince Ford, a former school board member for South Carolina’s Richland County School District One, and Steve Gallon, a board member for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, will be honored September 29 at CUBE’s 50th Annual Conference in New Orleans.

“The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is a special honor befitting its namesake, a person who served his community as a scholar, teacher, minister, mentor, author and civil rights activist,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO of the National School Boards Association.

“Urban school districts constantly face challenges that threaten student learning and Vince Ford and Steve Gallon are working to address a myriad of issues so all students have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. All Mays Award winners, with Ford and Gallon joining them, have strived to advance urban public education and close achievement and access gaps for our most vulnerable students,” continued Gentzel.

Ford receives his award

Ford, as a school board member for 24 years, helped his 24,000-student district develop innovative educational programming for students, create a landmark Healthy and Nutritious School Environment policy, raise academic standards, and work for a more equitable distribution of district resources to meet student needs. Ford retired from the school board in 2016.

Gallon served as a school administrator for many years, serving in Miami as a school principal and central administrator before accepting the superintendent’s post in Plainfield, New Jersey. As a member of the Miami-Dade County Board of Education, Gallon has worked to increase support for underperforming schools, improve equity in school discipline practices, and expand magnet schools to underserved communities.

“These school leaders have been at the forefront of efforts in their communities around the country to raise student achievement and provide urban schoolchildren the high-quality education they deserve,” added CUBE Chair Micah Ali, who serves on California’s Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Gallon receives his award

“It takes commitment and vision to address challenges while recognizing the power and potential of our urban public schools,” said Gentzel. “Millions of children attend our urban schools and while much has been done, their future requires that we not let up for a moment.”

The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded annually and is sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Learn more about CUBE.

Around NSBA

Six students conduct a science experiment with potatoes and electrodes.

2024 Magna Awards: Silver Award Winners

The 2024 Magna Awards program recognizes 15 exemplary district programs in three enrollment categories as Silver Award winners.