African Spirit Award for Jamaican-born principal

In celebration of Black History Month, Medgar Evers College’s Student Government, the People of the Sun Middle Passage Collective and the Student Life Association last week presented its African Spirit Award to Dr. Michael Wiltshire,principal of the college’s Preparatory School.

In accepting the award, the Jamaican-born principal highlighted the need for more community and parental involvement in their children’s education.

He also emphasized that all children can learn better with “proper and persistent guidance,” urging: “We must invest in our children’s education.”

Dr. Wiltshire received his primary and high school education in Jamaica, and came to came to the U.S. in pursuit of higher education. He said he applied and was accepted to CW Post University prior to migration to New York in March 1976.

In his quest to “get the best education possible,” Wiltshire subsequently transferred to Howard University in Washington D.C., earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in microbiology, with a minor in mathematics, in May 1980.

He continued his studies by attending the University of Maryland (College Park Campus), where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in May, 1981.

On completion of his second degree, Wiltshire returned to New York, where he attended St. John’s University, earning a Master’s of Arts degree in government and politics, along with professional certificates in international law and diplomacy and public administration in 1983.

In May 1990, Dr. Wiltshire earned a Master of Education degree from Teachers College at Columbia University, and a doctorate in mathematics education in May 1997, with his dissertation: “Integrating Mathematics and Science for Below Average Ninth Grade Students.”

Under his leadership, Medgar Evers College Preparatory School has made significant strides academically and in other areas, observers say.

He has raised the bar in every performance area, including: Increased graduation rate from 60 percent to 97 percent; number of students graduating with Regents and Advanced Regents diplomas increasing from 15 percent to 97 percent; increased percentage of students taking college level courses (while attending high school) from 0 percent to 20 percent (200 students); and the number of graduates admitted to college from 34 percent to 99 percent.

Dr. Wiltshire also has increased athletic clubs and PSAL sports from 0 to 7. The track team has ranked number one in Brooklyn and number two in the borough, and the girls’ basketball team won the 2010 Division A Championship in New York City.

Under Wiltshire’s watch, Medgar Evers College Preparatory School was one of three schools in the United States that won the College Board Inspirational Award.

In 2011, the school was one of four New York City High Schools designated an Early College High School by New York State.

Another of Wiltshire’s trailblazing accomplishments is the introduction of a Mandarin Chinese Program at the school. Medgar Evers College Preparatory School is currently one of the few public schools to offer Chinese as a foreign language course of study.