Virginia Beach School Superintendent James G. Merrill will step down this summer to lead Wake County Schools, the largest school system in North Carolina and the 16th largest in the United States. He was identified as a finalist for the Wake County position in early May.
“This is a bittersweet time for me,” Merrill said. “I am proud to have been part of the development of our strategic plan, Compass to 2015, and the outstanding work that teachers, administrators and support staff are doing here in Virginia Beach to create meaningful, relevant learning experiences for children. However, I am excited about the new opportunities that await me in Wake County.”
Merrill joined Virginia Beach City Public Schools in 2006. Since that time, he has led school staff and the community in the creation and execution of a forward-thinking strategic plan for student success. Compass to 2015 has refocused teaching and learning from standardized test preparation to fostering 21st century skills which will prepare students for college and the workplace. In addition, Merrill and School Board members collaborated to protect student programs and staff compensation during some of the worst economic times in recent history.
“Jim Merrill is a visionary in K-12 public education,” said School Board Chairman Dan Edwards. “Much of Compass to 2015 and its groundbreaking success are a reflection of his bold leadership. We are fortunate that a man of his caliber was at the helm of our schools for the last seven years.”
During Merrill’s tenure in Virginia Beach, he was named the 2013 Virginia Superintendent of the Year and was appointed in 2009 – by then Governor Tim Kaine – to serve on the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. A recognized leader at the state and national levels, Merrill never lost sight of his primary objective – to support and improve the academic achievement of students in Virginia Beach.
The School Board has contracted with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, an Illinois-based firm, to lead the national search for Merrill’s successor. Following Merrill’s departure, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Sheila Magula will serve as interim superintendent until his replacement is found.
“We are a diverse, high-performing school system in a very desirable community. I have every confidence that we will attract very strong candidates for the job,” said Edwards.