“There are so many people in Delaware that really have a passion for education,” muses Gary Stockbridge, former regional president of Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric. “And 80 percent of the stuff we all have a passion for, we all actually agree on. But so often today, people spend 90 percent of their time on the 10 percent of the ‘stuff’ that they don’t agree on—fighting. There is so much we can work together on; let’s focus on that and get stuff done.”
Therein lies the ethos of The Vision Coalition of Delaware, one of the nation’s most enduring public-private partnerships dedicated to improving public education on a statewide level. The group represents a cross-section of state leaders, from CEOs to district superintendents, charter school leaders, advocates, and more.
In 2005, Marvin “Skip” Schoenhals, then president, CEO, and chairman of WSFS Bank, led a steering committee that included Ernie Dianastasis, CEO of The Precisionists, Inc., to create a comprehensive and coherent education plan to help Delaware create—and deliver on—long-term blueprints for modernizing and improving the state’s public education ecosystem. The result was the creation of the Vision Coalition of Delaware, chaired by Schoenhals, which released a ten-year plan was called Vision 2015. Delaware moved on more than 75 percent of the policy recommendations set forth in the Vision 2015 plan.
As technology and modern approaches began making their way into classrooms, the Coalition—next chaired by Dianastasis—released Student Success 2025 to help inform the priorities of the next decade. Gary Stockbridge then served as the group’s next leader from 2016 to 2021 to carry on the mission of providing the business community a seat at the table to lead on collaborative solutions to building a world-class education.
Schoenhals, Dianastasis, and Stockbridge exemplify the commitment, leadership, and guidance of the Vision Coalition over the years to help the First State continue to grow and improve. The three leaders have helped connect education and business throughout the years, serving also as chairs of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee (DBREC) and the Delaware Workforce Development Board (DWDB), among others. Given by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and its workforce development affiliate, The Partnership, Inc., these three leaders will be presented with the John H. Taylor, Jr. Education Leadership award at the Superstars in Education & Training Awards Ceremony on Monday, May 9, 2022. The event will be held at 4:45 p.m. in Wilmington University’s Doberstein Admissions Center Auditorium.
About the John H. Taylor, Jr. Education Leadership Award
Throughout his professional career, Mr. Taylor was an educator. He began his career as a teacher, then served as the assistant to the superintendent of the Wilmington Public Schools. Taylor’s education background, coupled with his ability to share information and make connections served him well as he rose to become editorial page editor for The News Journal before becoming president of the Delaware Public Policy Institute in 2005. As a founding member of the Vision Coalition, Taylor’s leadership and directness were instrumental in building an impactful public-private partnership to advocate for improved education in Delaware. Taylor’s leadership style was always straightforward, clear-headed and often unwavering. At the same time, he was a humorous and truly humble man.
The John H. Taylor, Jr. Education Leadership Award recognizes leaders within the community who have provided sustained leadership in advancing Delaware education and who, by doing so, has also made our community a better place in which to live and work.
The Partnership, Inc. is the 501(c)(3) workforce development affiliate of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. It was created to promote charitable and educational activities by developing and fostering programs that encourage private sector involvement in workforce development and education. Delaware Principal for a Day, Superstars in Education & Training, Intern Delaware, and the Delaware Young Professionals Network are The Partnership’s four flagship programs.
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