By Sherri Kolade
Shawn Wilson is running for one of four open seats on the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (PCCS) Board of Education this Nov. 3 for four reasons: Shawn, 9, Holland, 9, McKenzy, 12, and Madisyn, 13 — his children, all PCCS students. Wilson’s goal, if elected, would be to help leverage the district’s diversity with more equitable education for all students.
“There is a big difference between diversity and equity. Are we providing an equitable learning experience?” Wilson asked. “I really want to be a part of driving innovation, equity and community voice. We are diverse as a school district, but there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Wilson’s older daughters experienced racism from students in middle school last year, which his family addressed.
“I believe that if we address these things all students, all communities, benefit. We have to continue to have courageous conversations about the impact of racism,” Wilson said. “I see PCCS through the eyes of my children and I understand the strengths and weaknesses of the district.”
Wilson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM) has other platform priorities including listening to the authentic student voice and innovation in education.
“I’m a disruptor in a good way,” Wilson said. “I want PCCS to be the best. The board’s role is to set the vision for the district. I think I can be that lead champion to help to do that.”
From his humble beginnings growing up in Milwaukee, he gleaned from his entrepreneur-musician father a spirit of perseverance.
“We definitely were not rich by any stretch of the imagination,” Wilson said, adding that his father taught him the value of hard work and overcoming barriers. “I think I get my entrepreneurial spirit from my dad. He taught me to dream big in a big way. I share that with the kids I mentor.”
Wilson did not achieve his career success by happenstance. His career has covered numerous paths. He started off as a social entrepreneur at his Atlanta-based consulting firm helping high-net worth social entrepreneurs (like Usher and Dwight Howard) launch social impact organizations. He continues his reach and serves on the board of directors at the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. Wilson has served on multiple educational boards including The Henry Ford Learning Institute and the National Dropout Prevention Network
At the BGCSM, Wilson reimagined the overall mission and what the youth could accomplish to get them career and homeowner ready. He also brought a breath of fresh air to the community hub by opening it up to the public for events and shared office space.
Kimberley Crouch, former PCCS school board president, said that he would “bring what we need” to the district. “Wilson has a willingness to engage the community and will definitely strengthen our board and community,” Crouch said, adding that Wilson keeps students at the forefront.
Cassidy Tucker, co-founder of fashion business Deviate Detroit, and 2013 PCCS graduate, worked with Wilson on a BGCSM summer after-school program that he pioneered for young people interested in pursuing a career in fashion design and more.
“Shawn leads by example in everything that he does, no matter how big or small the task may be,” Tucker said. “Shawn is always ten steps ahead and the kids are always put first.”
When asked what his proudest accomplishment was, Wilson could have easily mentioned traveling the world with Usher, rubbing shoulders with President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign or other lofty achievements— but Wilson said that his children are the answer.
“My most important role is my role as a father,” Wilson said, adding that his kids continue to be his “why.” “They are why I am running for the school board. Why I do everything I do in my life. To demonstrate or model the kind of behavior and citizenship I want them to [follow].”
Based upon Shawn’s commitments to the local community and business sector, and interest in having needed conversations about the importance of diversity and equity, The Michigan Chronicle is endorsing him for the Plymouth-Canton Schools Board of Education. A vote for Shawn would be a fresh perspective into this vital school board position, and would be a win, and advancement, for PCCS, the students and community.”