The Equity Specialist team at Albemarle County Public Schools received the Virginia Department of Education’s Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity. This award honors individuals and organizations that have “demonstrated a sustained commitment to eliminating inequities or remedying the effects of inequities in education”. 

 In describing the Excellence in Education Equity award, State Superintendent Dr. James Lane said: “This commitment includes efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps; the elimination of disproportionality in school discipline, graduation and dropout rates; expanding access to gifted education and advanced programs and improving supports and outcomes for English learners”. 

The equity specialists include Ayanna Mitchell, Leilani Keys, and Lars Holmstrom and are led by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bernard Hairston. 

Ms. Peake, who the award was named for, taught freed and enslaved blacks in the Hampton area to read.  Her classes were often held underneath the Emancipation Oak on Hampton University’s campus.  (Ms. Peake taught in the 1820-30’s before Hampton was organized, and died of tuberculosis in her early 30’s.)