Governor-Elect Appoints Prince William Teacher Va Secretary of Education

| December 22, 2017 | 0 Comments | Education

Photo of Atif Qarni when he was a candidate for delegate of Virginia’s 13th District, the seat won by Danica Roem.

Governor-elect Ralph Northam (D) came to Beville Middle School in Dale City, Thursday, to announce that Prince William County Public School teacher and Marine Corps veteran Atif Qarni will be joining his administration as the next Secretary of Education.

“If we want to build an economy that works better for every family, no matter who you are, no matter where you live, we must begin with the foundation of a world-class education,” Northam said in his speech.

The Governor-elect went on to say that way to achieve better educational outcomes is to support educational professionals, uphold accountability and expand STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics] curriculum.

“[I] look forward to seeing what new heights Virginia’s education system is able to reach in the next four years with the team I am announcing today.”

Atif Qarni is a Prince William County Public Schools educator who currently teaches civics and economics, U.S History, and mathematics at Beville Middle School.

Prior to that, he served Prince William County Public Schools as a GED Night School Instructor, helping individuals in Woodbridge and Manassas achieve their high-school equivalency diplomas. In 2016, he was awarded Dale City Teacher of the Year.

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) appointed Qarni to the Small Business Commission in 2013. He has been a member of the Virginia Education Association since 2008 and ran for House of Delegates in 2013 and Senate of Virginia in 2015.

He is a former Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps, Reserves and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 on Active Duty Assignment during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Qarni earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology from George Washington University. He earned a Master’s in History and his teaching licensure in secondary education from George Mason University.

“It’s exciting to have a teacher in that position,” said Bristow, Manassas Delegate Elect Lee Carter (D-50th District), in a correspondence with Bristow Beat. “He’s going to bring a perspective to that role that will serve all of us very well in the coming years.”

Carter said that as a fellow Marine, he knows Qarni will be committed to fighting and advocating for Virginia’s students and teachers.

“This is a great day for Beville Middle School, Prince William County, Virginia, the Virginia Education Association, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Congratulations, Atif!” said Kenny Boddye, Committee Chair of the Occoquan Democrats in a statement, in which he also called Qarni “a champion for our school system for at least a decade.”

Boddye further recognized Qarni diverse heritage.

“This has been a year of firsts in many regards when it comes to Virginia’s government. Atif is one of the very first Pakistani and Muslim-Americans to serve in a cabinet post from the very outset of a Virginia Governor’s administration,” Boddye said.

Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyer, also a Democrat in the race to become a congressional candidate for Virginia’s First District, congratulated Qarni in a statement, Thursday afternoon.

“Atif has been a valuable asset and advocate for education in Prince William County. His perspective as a school teacher is exactly what is needed for the job of Secretary of Education. There is lots of work to do to; increasing pay for school employees and ensuring students have an equal opportunity for a world class education regardless of socio-economic background, but I know that Atif is up to the task.”

Prince William Education Association President Riley O’Casey praised Qarni as well. “PWEA is proud of Atif and the work he has done to advocate for our students and members. We look forward to working with him in Richmond.”

Northam also announced other key appointments for senior leadership positions within the Education secretariat.

Holly Coy will continue serving the Northam administration as Deputy Secretary focusing on K-12 education. Fran Bradford will also join as Deputy Secretary focusing on higher education

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