Gov. Ralph Northam has named Rosa Atkins as acting superintendent of public instruction to replace James Lane, who served as the leader of the Virginia Department of Education from June 2018 to January 2022.
Atkins joined the Virginia Department of Education in July as assistant superintendent for talent acquisition and development before being appointed the first assistant superintendent for diversity, equity and inclusion a few months later.
“In Charlottesville, Dr. Atkins was a true pioneer as she engaged her community in courageous conversations and implemented strategic initiatives to expand opportunities for all students and eliminate disparities,” said Northam. “Throughout her career, she has made an amazing impact on public school students in Virginia, is extremely well respected by her colleagues across the commonwealth, and I know she will be able to step in and provide a seamless transition in leadership for the Virginia Department of Education.”
Atkins served as superintendent of Charlottesville Public Schools for 15 years before retiring in May. As the city’s second-longest serving superintendent, Atkins led the division’s successful efforts to raise graduation rates, reduce dropout rates and expand opportunities for all students.
“It is an honor to be appointed to this position and be able to provide continuity in leadership to Virginia’s school divisions,” Atkins said. “I look forward to working in partnership with all of our divisions to ensure that every student experiences high-quality instruction based on rigorous curriculum, and that all of our teachers and school leaders are equipped to provide those experiences.”
In addition to serving as superintendent in Charlottesville, Atkins served as assistant superintendent in Caroline County, director of instruction in Richmond and director of leadership development in Henrico County, where she began her career in education, serving first as a special education teacher, and then as an assistant principal and principal.
Atkins is a past president of both the Urban Superintendents Association of America and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, which named her as the Virginia Superintendent of the Year for 2011.
Atkins earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education, and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Virginia State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech.