PGCPS Welcomes Virginia State Superintendent Dr. Lisa Coons For Opening Day Tour As District Kicks Off 2023-24 School Year

August 21, 2023
Prince George County Public Schools welcomed Dr. Lisa Coons, Virginia State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Dr. Jeremy Raley, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Chief of Staff, to tour the district on Monday, August 21, 2023, and learn about several division initiatives aimed at supporting students and staff in innovative ways.
Dr. Coons’ visit to Prince George County was her first since being appointed as Virginia's 27th superintendent of public instruction on March 22, 2023, by Governor Glenn Youngkin.
As students returned to class to begin the 2023-24 School Year Monday morning, Dr. Coons, Dr. Raley, Division Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff, and PGCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Accountability Dr. Abbie Martin spent the morning welcoming Prince George High School students back to campus with warm smiles and well wishes. 
While visiting the high school Monday, the VDOE representatives spent time with several classes meeting teachers and students, ranging from Advanced Fashion Marketing, Sports, Entertainment, and Social Media Marketing, while learning about the campus' Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings with the division's CTE coordinator Ashton Girolmo and school principal Matt McAllister.
Coons Visit Photo

Virginia State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons (middle) greets third-grade students in Ms. Jessica Lee’s (left) class at Middle Road Elementary School during her visit on Monday, August 21, 2023. The VDOE representative was joined by Prince George School Board member Chris Johnson (second from left) and Division Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff (right). (PGCPS Photo)

In addition, Dr. Coons and Dr. Raley engaged in robust conversations with district representatives about the division's Future Teacher Pipeline program. This program, offered through Prince George High School, is available to graduating seniors who complete the school's Teachers for Tomorrow (VTFT) program, a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) initiative that recruits high school students into the teaching profession, passing the ParaPro Assessment, and either acceptance into a postsecondary college or university with the intentions of pursuing a degree in Education or an acceptance letter into an approved teacher education program at a higher learning institution.
Upon completion, eligible students receive a letter of agreement, an official employment offer as a teacher with Prince George County Public Schools, and are recognized before graduating from Prince George High School. Their employment would be contingent on district funding, availability of a teaching position in the licensed endorsement area, and timely fulfillment of employment requirements. These students will also be able to serve as substitute teachers in the district's schools during holidays and breaks to provide additional work experience for program participants. 
During Dr. Coons and Dr. Raley's visit to Prince George High School, they learned more about the Future Teacher Pipeline program from Clarence Thweatt, who was part of the program's first cohort in 2022. The Old Dominion University student is currently studying Health and Physical Education and has served PGCPS when home from school, including Middle Road Elementary School, in recent months. 
The VDOE representatives would then visit two of the district's elementary schools, L.L. Beazley Elementary School and Middle Road Elementary School. Both visits offered opportunities for Dr. Coons and Dr. Raley to meet students and teachers as they settled in for the start of the 2023-24 School Year. 
Coons Tours Beazley ESL.L. Beazley Elementary School principal Elizabeth Pell (right) leads Virginia State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons (left) and the group of visitors on a tour of the campus during the VDOE’s special visit to the division on Monday, August 21, 2023. (PGCPS Photo)
The visits also allowed Dr. Coons to personally congratulate several of the division's recent Teachers of the Year on behalf of the VDOE as they met Kristen Schwalm (2022 Beazley ES Teacher of the Year), Jessica Lee (2023 Middle Road ES Teacher of the Year), and Shawn Holt (2022 Middle Road ES & District-Wide Teacher of the Year), thanking them for their contributions and dedication to supporting their students.
Dr. Coons and Dr. Raley were joined by members of the Prince George School Board, Cecil Smith (Chairman), Jill Andrews (Vice-Chair), and Chris Johnson (District 2 Member), with Johnson also representing the Virginia School Boards Association as the Southside Region chairman of the organization, during the morning-time visit.
To see photos from Dr. Coons and Dr. Raley's visit to Prince George County, view the district's Flickr gallery by clicking here.