Jim Hart Award Winners


Tom Winton

As Governor’s School Coordinator for the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI), Tom Winton successfully guided the North Carolina Governor’s School (GS) through some of its greatest challenges and most tumultuous times. 

  • When state funding for GS was lost in 2011 (before being restored in 2012), and then again when state funding was imperiled in 2017, Tom was a steady source of facts about the contributions of GS to North Carolina and its incredible impact on so many of its citizens. Tom was ever ready to provide the NC Governor’s School Foundation (GSF) and other friends of GS with the information they needed to successfully persuade key decisionmakers to restore and preserve GS’s state funding. 
  • In March 2019, Salem College, host and partner to Governor’s School West (GSW) for over 55 years, informed DPI that it could no longer host GSW. With only 3 months before the 2019 session, Tom kicked into overdrive and was a key leader in GSW’s move from Salem College to High Point University. Conquering seemingly unending logistical challenges, Tom worked seamlessly with GSW’s faculty and staff to move GSW to another home in barely 3 months.
  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of GS for the first time since it debuted in 1963. Returning in 2021 meant navigating a GS session inundated by masks and COVID-19 testing. During unprecedented times, Tom was a constant source of vision and support for the directors, faculty, students, Governor's School contacts around the state, and every aspect of the GS program. His leadership was key to allowing the program to safely return with zero COVID-19 cases in 2020.

In addition to his steady leadership through seasons of crisis, Tom was also a wonderful promoter of the program, travelling countless miles around the state to meet with parents and students, along with school officials, to share the transformational nature of the program with them and encourage students from every LEA to apply to GS.

For those and many other reasons, the GSF is proud to honor Tom Winton as a Jim Hart Governor’s School Champion Award winner for 2021.