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The Principal Who Lifted Up One of the Largest Jail Systems Through Education

"I inspire educators to use their superpowers to keep students out of jail.”

- Hilderbrand Pelzer III

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Helping educators guide students through life's most challenging situations. 

Meet Hilderbrand Pelzer III

Award-winning Educator, Author of Unlocking Potential, and Speaker

With over three decades of experience, and known as the Principal who lifted up one of the largest jail systems through education, Pelzer has earned a stellar reputation as an educator, inspirational speaker, and leader. He understands that education is tough and has made it his personal and professional mission to help educators overcome challenges in schools and succeed. His leadership as a principal has earned him numerous honors in this area. One notable honor was the Queen Smith Award for Commitment to Urban Education, a national award recognizing significant contributions to urban education by an urban educator. In 2008, Pelzer was chosen from among 66 of the largest urban school systems across the United States to receive this award from the Council of the Great City Schools. In 2023, he received the Living Legend Award from the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators. This award honored Pelzer for making a mark on the city and going above and beyond to advance opportunities and the overall quality of life for Philadelphia children, families, and communities. He also received the Moral and Courageous Exemplar Urban Educational Leadership Award from Cabrini University’s Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement in 2019 and the prestigious Lindback Award for Distinguished Principal Leadership in 2014.

Organizing a School Inside a Prison

Pelzer examines urban education from a perspective that is highly underrepresented in national discussions, namely incarcerated students. The book draws on his early professional experiences and his nationally recognized public education work within one of the nation’s largest jail systems, the Philadelphia prison system.

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Insightful and


Unlocking Potential



Hilderbrand Pelzer III is an engaging and sought-after speaker who has used multiple platforms all over the world to spread his words and spirit of hope. His perspective on the education of incarcerated youth and the inadequacy of their experiences with education is particularly profound and a highly sought-after topic by educators of all levels.

Online Keynote

Decoding Dyslexia Georgia

TED Talk

TEDx Deer Park

Podcast Interview

Empower Dyslexia

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