The School Board of Chesapeake Public Schools (CPS) approved Dr. Cotton’s recommendation to appoint Dr. LaToya Walker Harrison as the new Chief Academic Officer for the district. Dr. Harrison will assume her new role on July 1, 2020.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Harrison has served as a dedicated educator and advocate for children. She brings a wealth of experience from her extensive career in both public and private education settings. Dr. Harrison has served as a teacher and principal in Washington, D.C., an executive director for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and founder of SOAR Education, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provided academic and social support to students from disadvantaged communities. In her current position, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for Suffolk Public Schools, Dr. Harrison oversees all areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, Career and Technical Education, and federal programs for the district’s 19 schools and two centers.
Dr. Harrison holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Education degree from Regent University, and both a Master of Education degree in Educational Policy and Management and a Doctor of Education degree from Harvard University.
During her tenure in Suffolk Public Schools, she led the division in increasing student achievement and in achieving full accreditation, and the implementation of innovative programs and initiatives, including a new Teaching and Learning Framework, a developmental kindergarten report card, a new 21st Century Learning Center program, and a Teacher Supply Store in partnership with the community. Her duties have also included overseeing the development of the College and Career Academy at Pruden, leading the development of the district’s strategic plan, and developing Excel Academy, an alternative education program for elementary students who have not met success in a traditional classroom.
Dr. Jared Cotton shared, “I am excited to welcome Dr. Harrison to the CPS family. She comes to us with a remarkable degree of experience as an accomplished educational leader. Her passion for education and proven track-record of success made her a natural choice. I am confident that she will be an excellent addition to the team and will be a great match for our schools and community.”
Believing that, as Rita Pierson famously stated, “every child needs a champion,” Dr. Harrison chose a career in education because of the profound impact that teachers had on her life as a child. “I had lots of champions along the way and it has been my life’s mission to pay it forward. As educators, I believe we must do whatever it takes to help children succeed. Therefore, I am truly honored and excited to join the Chesapeake Public Schools team as Chief Academic Officer,” said Dr. Harrison. “I look forward to partnering with the teachers and leaders in CPS in inspiring, engaging and empowering students to achieve their full potential.”
Dr. Harrison resides in Suffolk with her husband Dwain and daughter Ava Grace. She is a member of Restore Church in Portsmouth. Dr. Harrison is devoted to serving others and her mission in life is to help children reach their full potential.