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October 13, 2020

West Philly high school principal named best in the United States

Richard M. Gordon IV recognized for turnaround at Paul Robeson High School

Education High Schools
Gordon Philly Principal Source/

Richard M. Gordon IV, principal of Paul Robeson High School For Human Services in West Philadelphia, was named the 2021 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

A Philadelphia high school administrator received a prestigious honor this week from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. 

Principal Richard M. Gordon IV of Paul Robeson High School For Human Services, located in West Powelton, was selected as National Principal of the Year by the NASSSP.  He was presented with the honor Tuesday during a meeting for School District of Philadelphia principals. 

The award recognizes outstanding middle level and high school principals who provide high-quality learning opportunities and demonstrate exemplary contributions to the profession. 

Gordon, who was selected as Pennsylvania’s top principal by the Pennsylvania Principals Association in July, was among three finalists for the NASSP award. Each state, Washington, D.C. and overseas and military schools also select top principals for consideration. 

Gordon has been with the School District of Philadelphia since 2013 and is credited with transforming Paul Robeson High School from one of the city's 30 lowest-performing schools into a "high progress" school recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

During his time at the high school, Gordon has developed a model program for college and career readiness and achieved a 95% graduation rate. 

"From the moment he arrived at the district, Principal Gordon’s enthusiasm for creating a positive learning and instructional environment has yielded wonderful results," Superintendant William R. Hite said. "We are thrilled to see him receive this recognition and look forward to even greater success for his students and the entire school community."

NASSP President Robert Motley noted Gordon's role in creating significant improvement at the high school. 

"Any school turnaround is hard, and it takes a special leader to sustain it," Motley said. "But Principal Gordon has led Robeson High School's extraordinary turnaround keeping the success and well-being of his students as a top priority. Under his leadership, Robeson has been a model for other schools to follow and we are excited to celebrate his success with principals across the country.”

Gordon is one of only three principals from Pennsylvania ever to receive this national distinction, along with Kevin McHugh of the Pennsbury School District in 2002 and Michael Pladus of the Interboro School District in 1999.