The OEI, which was created through legislation passed during the 2013 General Assembly Session, will focus on turning around chronically failing, or underperforming, public schools in the Commonwealth to provide a high quality education for children attending any failing public elementary, or secondary school.
Consistent with the Constitution of Virginia, "it is desirable for the intellectual, cultural, and occupational development of the people of the Commonwealth . . . . to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained for all students throughout the Commonwealth." This law establishes a statewide Opportunity Educational Institution to provide a high quality education for children attending any failing public elementary or secondary school. The Opportunity Educational Institution will be uniquely positioned to turnaround failing schools and provide all students the opportunity they deserve. While this model is new to Virginia, it is proven nationally. States like Louisiana and Tennessee have created Recovery and Achievement districts and the results are positive.
In 2011, Sears moved to Chicago to help found Chicago International Charter School ChicagoQuest. ChicagoQuest uses an innovative curriculum centered on challenging students to uncover curriculum through classes that are cross-curricular, technologically integrated and outcome based. As Assistant Director, Sears led corporate fund raising, enrollment drives, curriculum development, teacher improvement, curriculum development, and all aspects of instructional leadership and planning for the charter school.
Sears returned to Virginia in 2012 to serve as principal at E.W. Wyatt Middle School in Emporia, where he currently works. He received his doctorate in education in 2011 from Virginia Commonwealth University and his masters of educational leadership in 2008 from George Washington University. He graduated with his bachelor of arts in 1995 from the University of Chicago. Sears resides in Richmond.
Julia Ciarlo Hammond of Richmond, Director of Legislative Affairs and Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor
Hammond leads the McDonnell Administration's legislative strategy, develops the Governor's policy agenda and works with members of the Virginia General Assembly to advance the Governor's priorities. Since January 2011, Julia has been pivotal to the success of the Governor's agendas, directing the Administration's outreach to the General Assembly and stakeholder groups. Practiced in leading a gubernatorial legislative team, she has expertly identified emerging issues in K12 reform, developed and implemented policy initiatives, and secured passage of key reforms that help ensure all students receive a world class education. Prior to joining the Administration as Director of Legislative Affairs, Julia Ciarlo Hammond was Virginia State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business, the Commonwealth's leading small business association. Previously, she served as Director of Government Relations for the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association. She also served in the Office of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, and as a legislative aide to Delegate David Albo. Hammond earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Mary Washington.
Doug Mesecar of Aldie, Founder of Adeptio Education and Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Innovation and Improvement for the U.S. Department of Education
Mesecar brings significant expertise in federal and state-level education policy encompassing funding, policy-making, innovation and business development. Mesecar previously led the Office of Innovation and Improvement, directing the implementation of the charter, choice, tutoring, teacher quality, and technology provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as well as identifying innovative approaches to reform and improvement and provided budgetary and administrative oversight for over 30 grant programs. Mesecar began as a teacher in Colorado and currently is founder of Adeptio Education, a government relations and consulting business for education organization, and co-owns a Sylvan Learning Center in Northern Virginia. Mesecar earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Hope College and completed post-graduate education at the University of Denver. Mesecar and his family live in Loudoun County, and his two children attend Loudoun County Public Schools.
Dr. John Nunnery of Norfolk, Executive Director, The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University (ODU)
Dr. Nunnery leads the ODU Center for Educational Partnerships. He is an expert in school restructuring and reform, educational evaluation, testing and measurement, strategic planning, and accountability. Nunnery holds an Ed.D. from the University of Memphis in Educational Psychology and Research, in addition to degrees from Rhodes College and Memphis State University. His previous appointments include Director of the Bureau of Educational Research and Services at the University of Memphis, Associate Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins University, and Executive Director of Research, Standards, and Accountability for Memphis City Schools. He has served two terms as President of the Comprehensive School Reform Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.
Anne S. O'Toole of Manakin-Sabot, Retired Principal for Chesterfield County Public Schools and Educational Consultant
O'Toole is an educational consultant whose passion is empowering educators to implement student-centered, inquiry-based, "best practices" for instruction. Anne spent 41 years as a teacher, reading specialist, K-12 language arts supervisor, and elementary principal in Richmond City and Chesterfield County. She was the principal of the first Expeditionary Learning School in Virginia, Robious Elementary (2005), which was identified as a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence under her leadership. Still passionate about improving instruction, she now works with the Virginia Department of Education, the Governor's Office of Education, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University to inspire principals and teachers. Currently, she is traveling throughout Virginia to implement a series of trainings on empowering teachers as leaders of successful school leadership teams. Anne holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Senate of Virginia Appointments:
Senator Ryan T. McDougle (R - Hanover)
Senator Kenneth C. Alexander (D - Norfolk)
House of Delegates Appointments
Delegate Richard P. Bell (R - Staunton)
Delegate Daun Sessoms Hester (D - Norfolk)