Gene Wilhoit, former Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and former Kentucky Commissioner of Education, has dedicated his career to serving education at the local, state, and national levels. He started out as a social studies teacher and principal in Ohio and Indiana. He transitioned to posts at the state level in Indiana and at the national level as a special assistant in the U.S. Department of Education. He later served as the executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education and as the chief of the Arkansas Department of Education. As Kentucky’s commissioner of education between 2000 and 2006, Wilhoit focused on the key factors that could change education for each and every child. He oversaw finance reform, boosted standards, improved assessment and accountability systems, advocated for development of the non-cognitive and meta-cognitive skills necessary for career success, and led the development of data systems to help monitor progress. He brought state leaders together to work collectively and seek agreement on how best to solve these difficult problems. Using his exemplary skills as a facilitator and collaborator, one of Wilhoit’s most significant achievements at CCSSO was his leadership on the development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards. Working with the National Governors Association, he helped build consensus on this new generation of rigorous, internationally benchmarked standards aimed at ensuring that what students learn in math and language arts does not vary significantly across states. Ever the dedicated public servant, Wilhoit has not truly retired. He is the executive director of the new National Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky, and is joining Student Achievement Partners as a partner. For his lifetime commitment to improving public education for all students and preparing them for life after high school, Gene Wilhoit encompasses the passion and values of the late Dr. Conant and is deserving of the 2013 James Bryant Conant award.

 PUBLISHED: November 3, 0201

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