A Lifelong Learning Adventure
Wade Whitehead, a fourth-generation teacher, a product of Virginia's public schools and a 2016 inductee to the National Teachers Hall of Fame, teaches fifth graders at Crystal Spring School in Roanoke, Virginia.
Wade was raised outside Bristol, Virginia, where he attended High Point Elementary School and John S. Battle High School in the Washington County Public Schools system. He graduated in 1994 with degrees in Anthropology and Elementary Education from the College of William & Mary. He holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Virginia. He is a current student in the Harvard University School Leadership & Management program.
Wade has been a National Board Certified Teacher since 1999. He has received dozens of professional recognitions and awards, including the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, the McGlothlin Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, the Virginia Lottery Super Teacher Award, the Virginia Lottery Excellence in Education Award, and the Sam's Club Teacher of the Year Award. He was named to the 2001 USA Today All-USA Teacher Team and was the 2000 Roanoke City Public Schools Teacher of the Year. In 2013 he was voted “Most Inspiring Teacher” by readers of The Roanoker magazine. In 2016, Wade was the only practicing public school teacher in America to be inducted in the 25th class of the National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF). He is certified in Gifted Education and in Grades PreK-8 by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is endorsed as a school administrator.
Wade has created and presented more than 300 educator, student, and family workshops, keynotes, and professional development sessions aoround the world on a wide variety of topics including differentiated instruction, project-based learning, classroom management, family and community outreach, and technology integration. He has presented in more than a dozen states and multiple times in the United Arab Emirates, where he is helping to transform the K-12 education system. He frequently appears at conferences, schools, universities, and in various media to speak and listen about learning and how it best happens. He cowrote Be A Teacher, published by Vandamere Press, which has been used across college and district teacher preparation and development programs and in schools and districts across the country and, more recently, in China.
In 2010 Wade established the Teachers of Promise Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Roanoke. As President of the foundation’s Board of Directors, he oversees efforts to identify and recognize the best prospective teachers in America. The foundation’s initiatives include the Teachers of Promise Institute, for which Wade serves as Executive Director. Established in 2004, the Institute recognizes top students from Virginia’s college and university Schools of Education; to date the Institute has recognized more than 3,000 honorees from more than three dozen college and university Schools of Education with a two-day conference and celebration gala. The Teachers of Promise Institute has a national reputation as an innovative and impactful teacher quality initiative. It continues to celebrate and elevate the teaching profession and has provided ideas, collaboration, and inspiration to thousands of aspiring and practicing educators.
Wade has served on a number of Virginia Department of Education committees and task forces, including the Committee To Enhance the K-12 Teaching Profession in Virginia and the Uniform Performance and Evaluation Committee. He has also served as an advisor and consultant on multiple occasions to the United States Department of Education. He is a former member of the Kappa Delta Pi Public Policy Committee. In 2014 he was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe as a charter member of the Virginia Standards of Learning Innovation Committee, which is working to imagine and invent the next generation of assessments and accountability across the Commonwealth.
Wade has worked extensively with Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision Studios to develop and refine numerous concepts and programs, including the North Star approach to teaching and learning, which is the cornerstone of Wade's classroom instruction. This approach celebrates differences in student learning styles, experiences, preferences, and strengths and has resulted in the development of dozens of teaching resources and technology tools. Wade has served on advisory boards at numbers organizations, including the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity, LeapFrog, the award-winning educational toy company, and Flocabulary, where was named a Master Certified (MC) Educator. His other partnerships and consulting endeavors have included dozens of school districts, colleges and universities, and companies and organizations including PBS and Apple.
From 2000 until 2014, Wade served as Chair of the Virginia Milken Educator Network (VMEN). The Network, comprised of recipients of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, brought together Virginia’s finest educators on a range of teacher quality initiatives.
In 2003 Wade and wife Robbie traveled across Italy and Greece, where he studied the roots of western civilization. In 2004 they continued their adventure by exploring Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula. On the two trips, Wade took over 1500 photographs and shot several hours of digital video, with which he wrote and produced episodes of "Teacher Travels," a by-teachers-for-kids PBS instructional television series that aired on PBS affiliates across the country. In 2017, he traveled to Germany, Czech Republic, and Italy, where he continued to build his portfolio of teaching and learning resources.
For more than a decade, Wade performed with The Jiving Five, his Roanoke-based jazz, swing, and funk quintet. He formerly performed and recorded with The SwayKatz, The Stardusters, the Blue Ridge Trombone Ensemble and his rock band, Soupy Chopez. He is an alumnus of the Gentlemen of the College, the oldest men's a cappella group at The College of William & Mary.
Wade served on the Executive Committee of the Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship, a match play golf event established in 1935. He is a member of the Dormie Network and plays out of Ballyhack Golf Club. He maintains close involvement in the amateur golf and golf course architecture communities and has qualified numerous times for the State Open of Virginia.
Wade is an ordained deacon and ruling elder (and former Diaconate Moderator and Session Clerk) at Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). There, he helped create MENistry, a Men’s ministry initiative, and was Chair of the RCPC Mission Study Team.
Wade is married to high school sweetheart Robbie Gibson, who works for Pfizer. They have two children: Jack, a student in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, and Grace, who attends Patrick Henry High School and the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School. Wade's parents, Ed and Betty, still live in Washington County near Bristol, where they taught in public elementary schools for almost ninety combined years. Wade's brother Scott, sister-in-law Beth, and sister-in-law Virginia teach in public schools, as do several other members of his family.