FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Dr. Wendy Robinson, former superintendent for Fort Wayne Community Schools, has died, WANE 15 has learned.

A public education advocate, Robinson spent a total of 47 years as an educator in the district. She was appointed superintendent of FWCS in 2003 and served in that position for 17 years before retiring in 2020. Robinson was a changemaker, being the first female, first African American and first FWCS graduate to be named superintendent of the district, FWCS said in a statement to WANE 15.

Robinson graduated from Central High School, going on to study at DePauw University. She didn’t stop there– Robinson earned two master’s degrees from Purdue Fort Wayne (then known as IPFW), along with a doctorate from Ball State University.

Robinson was named Indiana’s Superintendent of the Year in 2018, among many other accolades.

In an interview with WANE 15 at the time, Robinson said, “I don’t see this as something for me. I see it as a recognition of the work that happens in this district every single day. And that makes it more important that people recognize there are great things happening in the district because of the people in it.”

Robinson was invested in the community and served on multiple boards, including Parkview Health and Learning Forward. The school district’s Family and Community Engagement Center, which Robinson helped create in 2016, was renamed after her in 2022.

“Wendy was a passionate advocate for public education,” said Steve Corona, FWCS board member and founder of Latinos Count, in a statement to WANE 15. “She was a terrific representative for public education and was highly regarded by members of the Indiana General Assembly. We’ve lost a wonderful community leader.”

Read the full statement from FWCS below:

Fort Wayne Community Schools is saddened to hear of the death of former superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson. Dr. Robinson was a lifelong advocate for children, and supporting public education was her passion. She truly believed educating all children to high standards was the moral purpose of all educators. She had high expectations for the employees of Fort Wayne Community Schools – no matter the position – because every staff member had a role to play in students’ lives.

Dr. Robinson spent nearly her entire life with Fort Wayne Community Schools, starting as a kindergarten student and graduating from Central High School (now the Bill C. Anthis Center). She studied education at DePauw University in Greencastle and returned to Fort Wayne after graduation to work as a third-grade teacher at Ward Elementary School. In her nearly five decades with Fort Wayne Community Schools, she served as a teacher, principal and central office administrator before being named superintendent in 2003. She was the first female, first African American and first FWCS graduate to be named superintendent of the District.

She won numerous honors and was known nationally for her work in leading the state’s largest school district, a role she cherished.

“I just keep my head down and do what I have to do right now,” she said after winning the Outstanding Black Alumnus Award from Ball State University in 2007. “By doing your job well, things happen. There is no next step that is better than what’s going on right now.”

For FWCS, she was never satisfied with the status quo and pushed for transformation in education that would benefit all students.

“From the Board room to the classroom, creativity and innovation in our public schools know no bounds,” Dr. Robinson said after being selected as one of Education Week’s Leaders to Learn From in 2016.

Her legacy will be long-lasting in Fort Wayne Community Schools and throughout the greater Fort Wayne region. We keep her family and friends in our thoughts.

Fort Wayne City Councilman and former FWCS school board member Geoff Paddock also issued a statement regarding Robinson’s passing:

Dr. Robinson was a dedicated and calming presence In our FWCS system 20 years ago, when she began her tenure as superintendent of the largest public school system in Indiana. Due to a deep national recession, funding for public schools had been cut. Dr. Robinson worked with school board members to make cuts in the budget, but to keep teachers in the classroom, and to keep curriculum unchanged as much as possible. She worked tirelessly to see state budget cuts did not hurt our students. Dr. Robinson had the respect and support of the school board and more importantly teachers, staff, and principals to continue to provide the best public education in our state. She was an outstanding superintendent.   

Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock

The video above shows a WANE 15 interview with Dr. Wendy Robinson ahead of her retirement in 2022.