Skip to main content

Honoring Dr. Constance Clayton

The Annual Constance E. Clayton Lecture honors Dr. Connie Clayton, who after graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls (or Girls’ High), went on to receive both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Temple University, specializing in elementary school administration. Dr. Clayton began a powerful career as an educator, working in the Philadelphia public school system for nearly two decades as a teacher, a collaborating teacher in the Social Studies department of the Curriculum and Instruction Division, and as the project director of the Staff Development Program in African and Afro-American Studies. She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Penn GSE in 1981. Dr. Clayton, who began her career in Philadelphia as a teacher, went on to serve as the first Black Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia from 1983 until her retirement in 1993. She was known for tackling the district’s difficult budget without cutting student services, attracting local businesses to help equip schools with better resources, and establishing schools as the center of their communities.

It is important to note that Dr. Clayton’s dedication to the improved lives and education of children goes beyond her work in the school district and public schools of Philadelphia as she has served on numerous boards and commissions locally and nationally. She is also a major influence in the arts community in Philadelphia and has supported African American art and culture throughout her life.  In honor of her commitment to children’s education and touted in 1994 as the “pre-eminent educator in the country,” Dr. Clayton has received honorary doctorates from seventeen colleges and universities. As a testament to her work, the University of Pennsylvania in 1994, under the leadership of Marvin Lazerson and Gloria Twine Chisum, established the Constance E. Clayton Chair in Urban Education.