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NEWS RELEASES 2004-05 :: SEPTEMBER 8, 2004


Patricia N. Willoughby is North Carolina's new State Superintendent of Public Schools having been officially sworn in by Gov. Mike Easley at an afternoon ceremony held Tuesday at the Old House Chamber State Capitol Building in Raleigh. Willoughby replaces Mike Ward who resigned his position effective Aug. 31.

In appointing Willoughby, Gov. Easley said, "Tricia will bring a classroom perspective to the Department of Public Instruction. Her experience as a classroom teacher in our public schools, a 'teacher of teachers' at an education college, a public school parent and PTA volunteer, and as a state school board member makes her the right choice for this position. I am confident that she will be an effective manager and a tireless champion for education throughout her service in this post."

Willoughby said she was both honored and excited about her new position. "When I started my education career as a classroom teacher, I never imagined that I would one day be State Superintendent of Public Instruction. I am grateful to Gov. Mike Easley for appointing me to this role to serve the remainder of this term," Willoughby said. As State Superintendent, Willoughby looks forward to doing all she can to boost teacher recruitment and retention, to find ways to improve student performance, and to help strengthen high schools to be more meaningful and effective for students.

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee responded to the announcement by saying that he and the other Board members were delighted to have "one of their own" selected to lead the state's public schools. "Tricia's knowledge about education issues and experiences in the classroom will serve all of us well during the coming months," Lee said.

Willoughby is currently an assistant professor in the School of Education at Meredith College, where she has taught since 1989. Since 2001, she has been serving as an at-large member of the State Board of Education. Additionally, Willoughby taught public school from 1973-1977 and served on the N.C. Textbook Commission in the late 1980s.

She received her bachelor's degree in early childhood education from UNC-Chapel Hill and her master's in reading education from Meredith College. She is a member of the Child Fatality Task Force. She has been involved with the Governor's effort to transform high schools through the New Schools Project, a program funded by the Gates Foundation to redesign high schools to better prepare students for the workforce and post-secondary education.

For more information on Willoughby's appointment, please contact DPI's Communications Division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.