After more than 40 years of work in Fort Wayne Community Schools, Superintendent Wendy Robinson is retiring.
District spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Robinson will retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year after 17 years in the position.
Few superintendents have such a tenure, one school board member said.
“We have been so blessed to have Dr. Robinson as our superintendent for 16 years, which is almost unheard of in a large urban school district,” board Vice President Steve Corona said. “We're not a district in crisis. Those are the districts that keep hiring and firing superintendents every couple of years. That's not been the case.”
In four decades with the district, Robinson was a teacher, assistant principal, principal and a central office administrator before taking the top leadership role in 2003. She has seen all aspects of education and dealt with every challenge that can be thrown at the state's largest school district.
“Teaching kids is our business, and we're always looking at the whole child,” Robinson said. With that in mind, under Robinson the district put more focus on music, language arts and math. Data shows that almost all kids who graduate in the top 10% or 20% of their classes are connected to band, choir or the fine arts, Robinson said. Four years ago, district officials rejuvenated all the music programs.
Robinson believes math and language arts skills are critical to students when it comes to the future job market and is using a federal grant to bring in more music and arts teachers.
The curriculum has also been rewritten, with certain levels of math and language arts classes being introduced at earlier ages.
And of course, the district still faces challenges on teaching what is required on the state tests – a challenge many superintendents know all too well. But local educators also believe that music and the arts are important subjects that will help kids succeed.
“Even though the state hasn't landed where they need to land, we don't have time to wait,” Robinson said. “There are too many teachers and too many students; we need to focus on the core things we want to do.”
Robinson is leaving FWCS poised to continue to move forward with the direction she has set.
Corona said the issues the new superintendent should be ready to take on include meeting state education standards, educator accountability, promoting economic opportunities in northeast Indiana, school safety and teacher pay.
Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson has been an active member of the community and has formed partnerships with local agencies and businesses to increase educational opportunities, according to the district's website. Along with serving on various boards and leadership roles outside Fort Wayne, she has received numerous honors for her leadership. The following list includes some of them.
2018 – Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents
2017 – Partner in Purpose Award, Great Progressive Baptist Church
2016 – Leaders to Learn From, Education Week
2015 – Outstanding PTA Partner, Indiana PTA
2014 – Co-Citizen of the Year with Mark GiaQuinta, The Journal Gazette
2013 – Chairman's Award, Indiana Civil Rights Commission/ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission
2012 – Mike Kneale Educational Excellence in Leadership Award, Education Research & Development Institute
2010 – Communities for a Lifetime Award of Excellence, Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana Inc.
2009 – Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year, National Alliance of Black School Educators
2008 - District II Superintendent of the Year, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents
2005 – Athena Award
2004 – Elizabeth Dobynes Award, Fort Wayne NAACP
2004 – Helene R. Foellinger Achievement Award, YWCA
Source: Fort Wayne Community Schools website