Dr. LaVern Tarkington is a retired educator after more than 30 years of active professional services. Having retired as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources of the Tempe Union High School District, she was selected to return as the Interim Superintendent.
Although born in Texas, Dr. Tarkington perceives herself as an adopted native of Arizona having lived in Phoenix since one year of age. She attended elementary and high school in Phoenix. Upon graduation, she attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities recognized for producing outstanding leaders. Dr. Tarkington graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education, Masters Degree in Counselor Education, and a Doctorate in Educational Administration
For four years, Dr. Tarkington served on the Executive Board of the Arizona School Administrators Association, Inc., first as the President of the Educational Services Division, secondly as Chairman of the Regional Advisory Board, and finally as the first African-American elected as President of the Association. She held memberships in both the Arizona Executive Board of the North Central Accreditation Association and Tempe Community Council Board of Directors. She has been appointed by three State Superintendents of Public Instruction to serve on advisory committees such as the State Board of Education Advisory Committee for Special Education, the Arizona Board of Regents minority Education Access and Achievement Cooperative and the Arizona Financial Summit for Public Education.
Dr. Tarkington has been involved with many community activities, including the Phoenix Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for over 40 years. She has been extensively involved in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority serving as President of her chapter, Regional Representative to International Standards Committee, Heritage Committee Team Leader and is currently the 23rd Far Western Regional Director. As an active member of First Institutional Baptist Church, she is a member of the Support Group Ministries which provides counseling and support services to those desiring Christian based direction; she has served as co-chairman of both the 90th Church and the 100th Church and 18th and 28th Pastoral Anniversaries respectively, and she was elected as the President of the Board of Directors for FIBCO Family Services.
Dr Tarkington’s honors, among her many other accomplishments, include the Tempe Diablos' Educational Award of Excellence, Arizona School Administrators Distinguished Administrator Award, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Award. She was selected to participate in the 63rd Arizona Town Hall on Violence and Crime in Arizona. In 1996, she was honored as one of Arizona’s Women of Distinction by the Arizona chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Inc. Dr. Tarkington acts as a consultant to community based organizations in the Phoenix area specializing in education administration, accrediting schools, team building and goal setting.
Finally, out of all of Dr. Tarkington’s accomplishments, she is most proud of her family. She has been married to Donald for forty-one years, mother of two children, Frank, Sr. and Dawn, grandmother to Frank, Jr., La Ron, Jared Pierce, and Savannah. She is the daughter of the late Gerald B. Swain and Elizabeth L. Swain.
Arizona Alliance of Black
"Closing achievement gaps is a critical issue. The performance of Blacks is systematically different from that of other racial and ethnic groups. Decreasing gaps in student achievement means that we must increase the learning gains of Blacks."
- National Education Association
"The gap between teachers and students of color continues to grow. Over the past three years, the demographic divide between teachers and students of color has increased by 3 percentage points, and today, students of color make up almost half of the public school population. But teachers of color are just 18 percent of the teaching profession."
- Center for American Progress
"African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled."
- U.S. Department of Education
Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators
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AzABSE pledges to continue serving as educational advocates for children who have been poorly served in the past. We further pledge to ensure that African-American and all other diverse students are effectively educated in the present and are accorded priorities for the future. We pledge to lead the way through the creation of a concrete model that demonstrates the goals of academic and cultural excellence.