2024 Inaugural Ellis Walker Woods Award Winner Dr. La Verne Ford Wimberly

Retired Educator for Tulsa Public Schools

The 2024 winner, Dr. La Verne Ford Wimberly, is a veteran Tulsa Public Schools educator and administrator who played a role in desegregating the Tulsa Public Schools system. Wimberly’s career with Tulsa Public Schools spanned nearly 40 years. During her time there, she served in many roles, most notably as the first Black female interim superintendent. Wimberly was most recently the chairperson of the Greenwood Cultural Center board of directors and the chair of the board of trustees at Metropolitan Baptist Church. After posting inspirational messages alongside selfies in her Sunday church attire for fifty-two consecutive weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wimberly became a viral sensation for her hats, smile and joy. This led to a book released in 2023 titled “My Sunday Best.” The library at her alma mater, Booker T. Washington High School, is named after Wimberly and there are murals of her in schools throughout Tulsa.

“I am truly grateful to the Brock Institute in partnership with OSU-Tulsa for such an illustrious award,” Wimberly said to the gathering for her award ceremony after a standing ovation. “This award is one of the highest honors I have received, and it will serve as a symbol of inspiration for me to continue to advocate for a status of excellence in Tulsa Public Schools… It is my belief that because of the impressive memorial and what it means to the community, the evolution of Ellis Walker Woods came to fruition” Wimberly is also a member of the committee responsible for the creation of the Ellis Walker Woods Memorial, located on the OSU-Tulsa campus.

An interview with Wimberly discussing her legacy in Tulsa education and the Ellis Walker Woods Award was recently featured on the Brock Institute’s Innovating Education podcast, which can be listened to on Apple Podcasts.