Richard Gordon IV

Assistant Superintendent
School District of Philadelphia
2017 Neubauer Fellow
Ed.D. Educational Leadership, Northcentral University
M.S. Educational Leadership, Lehigh University
M.S. Special Education, Coppin State College
B.A. Social Studies Education, Lincoln University
“To lead is to serve. To serve is to try and lighten the burdens of our children and our families, uplifting their spirits, and inspiring them towards greatness. We must keep our students from falling through the cracks of intolerant bureaucracies that cause apathy, inequity, deep generational poverty, injustice, and disenfranchisement. Being a Principal and Neubauer Fellow means it is our divine duty and mission to build equitable service systems that work consistently and reliably for the benefit of our children and families in Philadelphia.”

After 13 years of service as Principal of Paul Robeson High School, Richard M. Gordon IV serves as an assistant superintendent for The School District of Philadelphia. When he became principal in 2012, when the school was one of 30 economically disadvantaged, underperforming schools slated for permanent closure. Spared at the 11th hour, Paul Robeson High School was placed under the leadership of Principal Gordon, who guided the school, which has a 100% minority student population and a 100% school poverty rate, through a period of transformation, including the 2017 Most Improved High School in the City of Philadelphia.

Principal Gordon is credited with developing a model college and career readiness program, with an 95% annual graduation rate, significantly higher than the city average of 70%. In 2019, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education recognized Principal Gordon for Paul Robeson High School becoming a “High Progress” school, removing it from state’s list of academically lowest performing schools. Principal Gordon is recognized as the only and first ever State and National Principal of the Year in the 204-year history of the School District of Philadelphia, being named National Principal of the Year on three occasions: by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in 2021; by the National Alliance of Black School Educators in 2019; and by Education Dive Magazine (K-12) in 2017.

In 2022, the Philadelphia Citizen named Principal Gordon Citizen on the Year; he is also the recipient of the Philadelphia Citizen/Accountability Lab’s Philadelphia Integrity Icon Award. He is also the recipient of the 2020 Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated Zeta Iota Iota Chapter Philadelphia Citizen of the Year Award. Principal Gordon was recognized with citations from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2021; Two Resolutions City Council of Philadelphia in 2020, 2019, and 2017; and the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2017. He is also the recipient of Lincoln University’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Professional Achievement Award and 2019 Dr. Frank “Tick” Coleman Distinguished Alumni Award.

Additional honors include the 2022 National Life Group LifeChanger of the Year Award; the 2022 Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Eastern Region Educator of the Year Award; the 2022 Top Educator by Marquis Who’s Who in American Education; the 2022 Schoolmen’s Club of Philadelphia Martin L. Glassman Commitment to Education Award; the 2021 6ABC Philadelphia Visions Black History Month Honoree; and the 2020 Diversity MBA Magazine Top 100 Under 50 Executive and Emerging Leaders Award.

Richard has been an educator since 1996. Prior to becoming a principal, Richard served as teacher, special education teacher, truancy liaison, and assistant principal. He is a board member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships (Community Advisory Board). Richard grew up in Camden, NJ, and Philadelphia.