Most Interesting and Influencial 2005: Dr. E. Sharon Banks

Dr. E. Sharon Banks
Lansing School District Superintendent

         Dr. E. Sharon Banks – Michigan’s 2002 Superintendent of the Year – has  energized and revitalized the Lansing School District since her appointment as superintendent in July 2000. Her drive, leadership, and commitment to accountability at all levels have resulted in a solid vision and aggressive action plan to meet the present and future needs of Lansing’s youth.
        She has built her administration around improvement in five key areas: Student achievement, student attendance, student behavior, parent involvement, and community relations. She immediately began implementing an ambitious 17-point plan that focuses on meeting her goals in each of those five areas.
         Dr. Banks introduced five new magnet schools that focus on such areas as the visual and performing arts, mathematics, science, technology, languages and global studies. She has beefed up efforts to fight truancy and focused resources on improving reading and science skills.
         The Michigan Association of School Administrators announced Dr. Banks’ unanimous selection as 2002 Michigan Superintendent of the Year on November 15, 2001, citing her impact on school district students and the Lansing community in her short tenure. The panel also cited Dr. Banks’ strong leadership, creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students, communication skills, professionalism, and community involvement.
        The Lansing School District has seen a consistent rise in scores on state standardized tests, with classroom instruction bolstered by the addition of reading and math specialists at each school. Dr. Banks also implemented Quarterly Assessment tests and Pacing Guides that are aligned with state benchmarks as tools to help ensure that students are progressing with the proper skills. She also recently oversaw the opening of the Harley Franks Early Childhood Center and the Moores Park Reading and Math K-3 Academy in an effort to ensure students are getting off to the best possible start in school.
       At the high school level, Dr. Banks has been the driving force behind a Ninth Grade Success Academy that aims to keep struggling students in school and an International Baccalaureate program at Eastern High School that will provide the most rigorous high school curriculum in the area.
      Prior to coming to Lansing, Dr. Banks rose steadily through the ranks of the Fort Wayne School system, serving as teacher, dean of girls, principal, and finally area director. Dr. Banks’ honors are too numerous to list completely, but she previously has been named Fort Wayne Educator of the Year, Principal of the Year for the state of Indiana by the Indiana Parent Teacher Association, and Ball State University’s Outstanding Alumna of 1996.
       She has continued her community involvement since arriving in Lansing. She serves on boards for the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing, the Lansing Educational Advancement Foundation (LEAF), and the Hinman Foundation. She also is a member of the Michigan Association of School Administrators Council, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of Black Educators.
        Dr. Banks and her husband, Bill, have two grown children, Jody and Jonathan. While her own personal philosophy is to be a lifelong learner, those who know her say that she is certain to be a lifelong teacher.