The Virginia State Board of Education’s April 24th meeting was the last meeting for Dr. Patricia (Pat) Wright as she prepares to transition to retirement. Near the end of all the comments and accolades at the meeting, she made it quite clear that she was going to just retire and nothing else. VASSP wishes her well.
In her twenty seven and one-half years of employment at the DOE, she has served the last six years as our State Superintendent of Instruction. During her leadership, a number of initiatives have been put into place. Most significant are her efforts to continue to promote and assist school divisions with the Virginia Standards of Learning. When educators and school boards in the Commonwealth took issue with these assessments, Dr. Wright held firm with keeping our schools and staff focused on these standards. She believed that our students deserved the best and the SOL were established to ensure that success. Her choice to maintain our own set of standards and not accept the Common Core which was promoted by the federal DOE was a wise decision. This decision to not accept the Common Core was supported by remarks made by Dr. Billy Cannaday, Virginia State School Board member at the April 24th meeting. Dr. Cannaday, a former State Superintendent during 2006-2008, noted that Dr. Wright’s actions as State Superintendent had “..been guided by principals about children that are non-negotiable.” It was clear that student success was of paramount importance to Dr. Wright. Other board members echoed this sentiment.
Dr. Wright commented that her most significant accomplishment has been the College/Career Readiness Initiative. In addition, she noted that teacher quality has improved and she was proud of the accomplishments in Special Education in Virginia, especially in the area of services for autism.
For VASSP, the time that Dr. Wright served in her position has been special for our organization. Usually, newly appointed state superintendents chose a staff member to meet with VASSP and over the years, our organization has been well served by appointees from the DOE. Dr. Wright, however, chose to be the representative and subsequently met regularly with the VASSP Board of Directors. This was unique and special indeed.