Award-winning Educator to Speak at Greater Scranton MLK Commission Dinner

Jan 8, 2016

A leader in education, nationally recognized for turning around low-performing, dangerous schools, will provide the keynote address at The Greater Scranton Martin Luther King Commission (GSMLKC) annual awards and celebration dinner at The University of Scranton, Sunday, Jan. 17. The event begins at 2:30 p.m. in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center.

The GSMLKC’s theme for 2016 is “Walk in the Light,” inspired by a quote from Dr. King: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism, or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

“The commission’s focus for 2016 is education, primarily of youth and the community, inspired by Dr. King’s principles of leadership and service and this year’s keynote speaker Linda Cliatt-Wayman is an example of these ideals in action,” said Cathy Ann Hardaway, president of the GSMLKC.

Cliatt-Wayman, principal of Strawberry Mansion in North Philadelphia, is a passionate educator with an unwavering belief in the potential of all children whose success as a high school principal in North Philadelphia has been featured by TED, ABC World News Tonight and Nightline. Cliatt-Wayman grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia, where she experienced firsthand the injustice being perpetrated against poor students in their education. She has dedicated her career and her life to ending that injustice and to helping students succeed in school and beyond.

In addition to the keynote address, Alexis Kirijan, Ed.D., superintendent, Scranton School District and Marwan Wafa, Ph.D., chancellor, Penn State Worthington, will speak at the awards dinner.

Cliatt-Wayman earned her bachelor’s degree from Kutztown University and her master’s degree from St. Joseph’s University. She spent 20 years as a special education teacher before becoming the principal of FitzSimons High School in 2003. Cliatt-Wayman led a turnaround of FitzSimons from a school known for low levels of academic achievement and high levels of violence to a safe space focused on learning.

In 2005, Cliatt-Wayman was given the opportunity to open The Young Women’s Leadership School at Rhodes High School, where she also led a turnaround. Before she arrived at Rhodes, only three percent of students were proficient in math and nine percent were proficient in reading. By holding students and staff alike to high expectations, providing intense professional development to her staff, building a strong leadership team, and always believing in and loving her students, Cliatt-Wayman oversaw the growth of Rhodes so that the majority of students were proficient in math and reading, and 94 percent of seniors were accepted into college.

Cliatt-Wayman spent two years as assistant superintendent of high schools for the School District of Philadelphia, directly overseeing all of the district’s 52 high schools. In 2012, she became principal at Strawberry Mansion High School, not far from the North Philadelphia neighborhood where she grew up. Test scores have improved every year since she took over, and the school was removed from the federal Persistently Dangerous Schools list for the first time in five years.

In May 2015, Cliatt-Wayman delivered a TED Talk at TED Women (, in which she described her loving, fierce leadership for children. She was named a KYW Gamechanger and won the 2014 Philadelphia Magazine Trailblazer Award and 2014 Philadelphia Maneto Award. She is among just 50 educators in the world named as finalists for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize given by the Varkey Foundation.

Above all, Cliatt-Wayman is driven by her love for her students. She ends her announcements to her students every morning the same way: “Remember, if no one told you they loved you today, remember I do and I always will.”

Tickets for this event are $25 and can be reserved by contacting Jennifer Pennington at the University’s Office of Equity and Diversity by email at or calling 570-941-6645.

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