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News > Press Releases > Honorary Awards 2016

Local Ypsilanti School Leader Honored for Contributions

Former Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools Among Recipients of Honorary Awards at HighScope’s 2016 International Conference

May 18, 2016

Detroit, MI — Former Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools, Dr. James Hawkins, was honored last week in front of a packed hall of preschool educators at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. The Charles E. Beatty Award, named after a renowned Ypsilanti educator, was given during the 2016 HighScope International Conference in honor of Dr. Hawkins’ contributions to the field of early childhood education.
Dr. Hawkins, a long-time Ypsilanti community and educational leader, received the award during the HighScope conference which brought together early childhood educators and advocates from more than 30 states and a dozen countries. Also presented during the event were the David and Phyllis Weikart awards, which recognize outstanding leaders in the field of early childhood education.
The Beatty award, named for Michigan’s first African-American school administrator, is given in recognition of “courageous leadership on behalf of children and families.” Beatty played a significant role in the Perry Preschool Study, a well-known research project that helped promulgate the importance of preschool education across the world and served as the basis for HighScope’s creation.
Dr. Hawkins’ career began as an elementary teacher in Pontiac, MI. Over the years, he has served in multiple leadership roles in schools around Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. From 1984 until 1990, and again from 2005 until 2009, he served as the Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools. During his career he has garnered acclaim for his work as an educator and humanitarian, appearing on national television programs and earning multiple honorary awards.
The Weikart awards, named for HighScope’s founders, were presented to two other educators. Preschool educator Carol Idol, from Knoxville, TN, was one of the recipients, along with Sonja Griffin, Manager of the Quality Practice and Professional Development Unit in the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning.
HighScope’s annual conference, now in its 44th year, brought together more than 1200 early childhood educators, advocates, and researchers from May 9–12. It included more than 100 workshops on a variety of topics, such as child assessment, dual language learners, and musical activities. The event was also host to renowned leaders in the field of early education, such as keynote speaker Walter Gilliam, PhD, Director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.
HighScope Educational Research Foundation is an independent nonprofit research, development, training, and public outreach organization based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. HighScope's mission is to change the world one child at a time by providing high-quality preschool education support and training based on validated research.

From left to right: Weikart Award recipient Sonja Griffin, National Black Child Development Institute cofounder Evelyn K. Moore, HighScope President Cheryl Polk, and Beatty Award recipient Dr. James Hawkins.


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