Antwan D. Wilson '95
To most people, the prospect of converting an inner-city school from an environment of gang violence to a center of learning would be daunting. For Antwan Wilson, it was a challenge he faced with a vision and a tangible plan.
Wilson describes his career as a “diverse range of educational experiences” that broadened his perspective and focused his efforts on providing the best possible educational opportunities. He has taught seventh grade in Raleigh, N.C., high school history and social sciences in Wichita, Kan., served as an instructional coordinator at Lincoln High School, Lincoln, Neb., later returning to Wichita as assistant principal at South High School for two years, then principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School.
Then, in 2004, Wilson accepted the job of principal at Denver’s Montebello High School, an ethnically diverse school with a high rate of gang violence. On his arrival, Wilson was the school’s third principal in less than a year. Instead of gang members without hope, he saw students in need of structure and stability. His plan involved changes in how teachers view their mission, how students think about their potential and the role of education, and how the community at large - including parents - viewed its school. In administering the changes, he became a fixture in the hallways of Montebello, checking hall passes and uniforms.
Four years later, Montebello’s atmosphere has experienced a positive shift. Student enrollment in Advanced Placement courses has increased, as have math and reading scores, graduation and college acceptance rates, and attendance at parent-teacher conferences. Student suspensions have decreased. For the future, Wilson envisions Montebello as an “early college” including three small learning academies funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2007, and a dual enrollment program with the Community College of Aurora, CO.
Newly promoted to Denver Public Schools’ High School Instructional Superintendent, Wilson hopes to implement some of the changes made at Montebello in other areas in Denver where there is need. He also serves on the Governor’s P-20 Council reviewing educational reform and alignment in Colorado from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate studies, and is involved in a variety of other organizations focused on educational improvements throughout Colorado.
Wilson lives in Denver with his wife, Tresa (Watson) Wilson '95, and their children Abriana, 6, and twins Aolani and Amari, 1.