The newly-selected superintendent of Prince William County Public Schools is setting high goals for herself, and vowing to “elevate and honor” students in Virginia’s second-largest school system.
The Prince William County School Board announced LaTanya McDade, currently the chief education officer for Chicago Public Schools, as the new superintendent Wednesday evening.
In Chicago, McDade, 47, oversees academic departments in the nation’s third-largest school division with 340,000 students across 348 schools. Prince William County has approximately 90,000 students.
“While this is an exciting time, I also understand the gravity of this moment,” McDade told the board, and the audience viewing the livestreamed event.
“Change naturally brings about some level of anxiety.”
McDade, School Board Chair Babur Lateef and other members saluted departing superintendent Steve Walts, who retires June 30.
“I want to speak directly to our parents, students, staff, and community members to reassure you that together we will honor the rich traditions, celebrate our successes and build an even stronger future,” McDade said.
McDade said she has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and district administrator.
“But the role that best prepared me to lead Prince William County Schools is that of a parent.
“I know all that I desire in education for my two sons, as a mother,” McDade said. “And I want you to know, that all that I would want in education for my own children is what I want for every Prince William County school student, and I will never settle for anything less.”
McDade will supervise approximately 11,000 school system employees.
“I want you to know that I will value and respect each of you as professionals,” McDade said. “I look forward to collaborating with you, and we will always be one team, with one more star.”
The daughter of immigrants from Belize, McDade earned a master’s degree in leadership and administration from Loyola University Chicago and has a bachelor’s in elementary education. She will complete a doctorate in educational leadership and supervision from Lewis University this spring.
“I understand firsthand the importance of providing students with access to rich opportunities that affirm your identities, strengthen your unique skills and talents, and support your aspirations to position you for success — not just in school and in education, but in career, and in life,” McDade said.
“We will elevate and honor our students’ voices, and always put you first — because you are the reason we serve,” she said.,
The board Wednesday night voted unanimously to affirm McDade’s contract. She was hired after a nationwide search, which generated more than 45 applications from 16 states.
Walts applauded the selection of McDade, and offered her unfettered access while working with her during her transition. She begins the job July 1.
“We look forward to calling Prince William County home,” McDade said.