Fellow Profiles

Richard Gordon

School Type


Grade Levels


Student Enrollment



West Philadelphia


Ed.D. Educational Leadership,

Northcentral University (Anticipated May 2022)


M.S. Educational Leadership,

Lehigh University


M.S. Special Education,

Coppin State College


B.A. Social Studies Education,

Lincoln University

Richard Gordon IV

Principal, Paul Robeson High School for Human Services
School District of Philadelphia
2017 Neubauer Fellow

“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.”

Richard has served as the principal of Paul Robeson High School for Human Services since 2013. In 2013, Robeson was slated for permanent closure. Spared at the 11th hour, the school was placed under Richard’s leadership, whereby his transformative leadership led the school to be recognized as the “2017 Most Improved High School” in the city of Philadelphia. With a 100% minority student population (95% African American) and a 100% school poverty rate, Principal Gordon is credited with developing a model program for college and career readiness. Achievements include a 95% annual graduation rate (the city’s average graduation rate is 70%), mathematics and science Keystone “Below Basic” scores reduced to less than 20% by 11th Grade (started at 90%+ on average for both subjects), literature Keystone “Below Basic” levels reduced to under 10% by 11th grade, and highest percentage of math Keystone Proficient/Advanced scores by 11th grade in the school’s history (32.9%). In 2018 and 2019, Paul Robeson High School was awarded the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund FAFSA Award for increased FAFSA Completion (86%) and Student College Matriculation (55%). Paul Robeson High School is ranked in the top third of Philadelphia and PA Schools (2020, 2019, 2017 US News & World Reports Rankings).  


In 2017 Education Dive Magazine recognized Principal Gordon with the National School Administrator of the Year Award. In 2018 and 2019 he received the “MADE MAN” Foundation’s Distinguished Leader & Advocate for Change Award. In 2019, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education recognized Principal Gordon for Paul Robeson High School becoming a “High Progress” school, removing it from the Commonwealth’s list of academically “high needs”/lowest performing schools. Thus, Principal Gordon received numerous state and national acknowledgements, including, the National Alliance for Black School Educators’ 2019 National Principal of the Year Award, Black Enterprise Magazine’s 2019 Modern Man of Distinction Award, and the University of Pennsylvania’s 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Change Community Education Award. Principal Gordon also received three citations from the City Council of Philadelphia, and a citation from the Pennsylvania State Senate for Outstanding Student Achievement. In 2020, he was recognized as the Pennsylvania State Principal of the Year, and he was given the Distinguished Service to Education Award.  Principal Gordon was named the 2020-2021 National Association of Secondary School Principals’ (NASSP) National Principal of the Year.


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.

2017 Neubauer Fellows Page