Youngkin appoints Lisa Coons as superintendent of public instruction

Free Press staff report | 3/23/2023, 6 p.m.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday announced the appointment of Tennessee Chief Academic Officer Lisa Coons as Virginia’s 27th superintendent of …
Dr. Coons

Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday announced the appointment of Tennessee Chief Academic Officer Lisa Coons as Virginia’s 27th superintendent of public instruction. Dr. Coons’ appointment as the commonwealth’s chief school officer is effective Monday, April 17.

“Dr. Coons’ proven leadership will serve Virginia’s students, families and teachers well and help make Virginia’s education system best-in-class,” Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said. “She has demonstrated success in addressing learning loss, creating and implementing evidence-based literacy policy and practices, and building strong partnerships with teachers, communities, school and division leaders, and parents.”

“I am honored that Governor Youngkin has selected me to serve as Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction in collaboration with Secretary Guidera,” Dr. Coons said. “The governor has set a bold academic agenda that puts students first and empowers families to help set priorities for their children. We have an opportunity in Virginia to be the country’s best state for education, and we’ll achieve that vision through partnerships with families, educators and school division leaders.”

Dr. Coons replaces Jillian Balow, who resigned earlier this month just 14 months into her tenure, and after the state education

department came under fire for errors for its redrafting of K-12 history standards and for miscalculating how much education funding localities would receive from the state.

At the time of her resignation, Gov. Youngkin refused to say whether he asked for Dr. Balow’s resignation. Ms. Balow is to receive $266,213 in 24 semi-monthly settlement payments over the next year. Gov. Youngkin also announced the appointment of Goochland County Superintendent Jeremy Raley as the Virginia Department of Education’s new chief of staff.

“Dr. Raley is a trusted school division superintendent from the Goochland and Shenandoah County communities, and will be a great asset to the department,” Guidera said. “He is committed to serv- ing Virginia families and educators as we all work together to support student success. Together, Dr. Coons and Dr. Raley bring decades of experience in education systems centered on high expectations and multiple pathways for every student, strong knowledge and experience in the commonwealth, and proven leadership.”

Dr. Coons has served in multiple leadership roles in K-12 education. She most recently served as chief academic officer for the Tennessee Department of Education, where she led all birth to grade 12 academic programming, including K-12 teaching and learning in language arts, mathematics, science, and fine arts; early childhood education; voluntary pre-K and Head Start.

Dr. Coons also worked as an executive officer of division priority schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools and executive director of instructional leadership at the Tennessee Department of Education. She holds a doctorate in education from Lipscomb University.