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For Immediate Release
September 2, 2005
Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420
Julie Grimes
Public Information Officer
(804) 225-2775

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary
Announces Retirement Effective January 1, 2006
First Woman to Serve as State Superintendent Led SOL Reform

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary has announced her retirement, effective January 1, 2006.

Dr. DeMary began her career in education more than 35 years ago as an elementary school teacher and rose to become the first woman in Virginia to serve as superintendent of public instruction. As state superintendent, she directed the successful implementation of Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) program to raise academic standards and hold schools accountable for increasing student achievement.

Dr. DeMary announced her resignation Thursday afternoon to a gathering of several hundred employees of the Department of Education in the James Monroe Building in downtown Richmond.

“Few public servants have the privilege of directing a reform they helped design, and then, before their watch is over, seeing that reform produce the intended results,” said Dr. DeMary. “Serving as Virginia’s chief school officer and leading the Department of Education during the implementation of the Standards of Learning program has been the ultimate honor of my life.”

Dr. DeMary joined the department in 1994 as assistant superintendent for instruction. She supervised the development of the K-12 content standards known as the Standards of Learning, which were approved by the Board of Education in 1995, and played a key role in the design and launching of an accountability system with annual testing in English, mathematics, science, and history.

Dr. DeMary was appointed superintendent on June 1, 2000 by Republican Governor James Gilmore after serving six months as acting superintendent. She was reappointed to a full, four-year term by Democratic Governor Mark R. Warner on April 2, 2002.

Student achievement on Virginia’s SOL tests has increased in all subject areas since statewide testing began in 1998 and 84 percent of the commonwealth’s schools are now fully accredited. Virginia students also are performing at much higher levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as “The Nation’s Report Card”) and the SAT I college-readiness test. The number of Virginia students taking Advanced Placement courses also has increased dramatically.

The improved performance of students under the SOL program is also reflected in the fact that Virginia and 80 percent of the commonwealth’s public schools met or exceeded No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) achievement objectives during the 2004-2005.

“While thousands of educators have contributed to this success, Dr. DeMary’s leadership and vision were essential,” said Board of Education President Thomas M. Jackson, Jr. “She knew in her heart that accountability would benefit the children of Virginia and that has made all the difference.”

“The commitment of successive administrations, the General Assembly, and the Board of Education to the Standards of Learning has allowed Virginia to increase student achievement and provide students and schools with a foundation for even greater success,” said Dr. DeMary. “I am confident that those who come after me will sustain and build upon our reform.”

Dr. DeMary was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and moved to Virginia as a young child. She attended public schools in Henrico County and graduated from Highland Springs High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her doctorate in educational planning and administration from The College of William and Mary and her master’s degree in special education from Virginia Commonwealth University.

She served as a teacher in Richmond, Fairfax County, and Henrico County, and as an assistant principal, principal, elementary school supervisor, director of special education, and assistant superintendent of instruction in Henrico County.

Dr. DeMary received the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals 2000-2001 Pathfinders Award, the 2000 Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award from the Association of Virginia Women Educators, the Outstanding Educational Leadership Alumni Award from the School of Education of The College of William and Mary in 2001, the 2001 Alumni Star Award from Virginia Commonwealth University, and the 2002 State Leadership Award presented by the National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators.

In November 2003, she received the Virginia Art Education Association Distinguished Service Award, and the Virginia Association of Test Directors Excellence in Assessment Award. In October 2004, she was awarded the 2004 Pace Humanitarian Award from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and in June 2005, she received the Frank E. Flora Lamp of Knowledge Award given by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.

As a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Dr. DeMary serves as a member of the Task Force on School Health and Safety, a member of the International Committee, and a member of the State Partnership Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. She is a member of the Education Commission of the States, the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Center for the Teaching of International Studies, and president of the Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Association.