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GCPS CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks was given a lifetime achievement award by the Georgia ACTE.

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said at Thursday’s monthly school board meeting that he is beginning the 55th year of his career in education.

The Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education recognized Wilbanks this week for his more than half a century of service and innovation in the field of education.

Gwinnett County Public Schools announced via social media the state affiliate of the ACTE granted Wilbanks its first-ever recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

“Like with any recognition I’ve ever been given, there are a lot of people responsible for it other than me, and that’s the case today,” Wilbanks said in his acceptance speech. “I have had the good luck of working for good people and with good people all my career.”

Wilbanks’ early teaching career was in technical education in DeKalb County. One of his first jobs in Gwinnett was the director of technical and vocation education with GCPS in 1982.

Wilbanks was named superintendent of GCPS in 1996. He opened Gwinnett Technical College as its first president in 1984.

As president of the organization that would later become GCTE. He was a logical choice for the organization’s first lifetime achievement award because of his leadership through a struggling period in the mid-’90s.

{span id=”docs-internal-guid-3a79d2c5-7fff-4d83-fe6a-80e1579aaf92”}Really the organization wants to honor those people who have made significant contributions in the area of CTE,” GACTE president Dustin Davis said. “If it weren’t for him and his leadership, we probably wouldn’t have a professional organization.”

Wilbanks has served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Teacher Retirement System and was elected the first chairman of the Georgia Education Coalition in 2006 to give school districts a unified voice with the state’s Legislature on funding and educational policy issues.

Wilbanks adds the lifetime achievement award to his collection of recognitions, including the 2005 Georgia Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for a 2005 National Superintendent of the Year award. The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce awarded him its highest honor, Citizen of the Year, that same year.

The Georgia ACTE encourages and organizes teachers to become a part of a collective voice that can influence issues and policies that impact education.

The organization also presents awards to the Postsecondary Teacher of the Year, Administrator of the Year, New Teacher of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Policymaker of the Year and for Career Guidance and Outstanding Service.

Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories about the county in which he grew up.