The August 9th meeting of the Hickory Rotary Club featured Dr. June St. Clair Atkinson, the first woman elected State Superintendent of the Public Schools in North Carolina who has served in the position since August 2005. Dr. Atkinson was elected as the North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction in November 2004 and re-elected in 2008. She heads the NC Department of Public Instruction, an agency which she served for nearly 34 years as a chief consultant and director in the areas of business education, career and technical education, and instructional services. As a former business education teacher, Atkinson has been involved in instruction and curriculum development throughout her career. She is past president of the National Business Education Association, Southern Regional Education Board’s High Schools that Work, and the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium.
As State Superintendent, Dr. Atkinson understands the importance of improving teaching and learning, creating school environments that encourage student success, keeping education modern and relevant, and graduating every student career and college ready. Under her leadership, student graduation rates have improved to over 80% in North Carolina.
In leading the Department of Public Instruction, Dr. Atkinson is directing the groundbreaking Accountability and Curriculum Reform Effort (ACRE) initiative to revitalize the state’s curriculum and accountability programs. The landmark Race to the Top Grant is helping support this work in addition to several other key reform initiatives such as transforming low-performing schools. Dr. Atkinson is also focused on ensuring students have the opportunity to learn the technical skills that are important in today’s global economy. Thanks to partnerships with numerous corporations, North Carolina is able to advance the skills of both teachers and students, as well as transform learning, and ultimately student achievement.
As State Superintendent, Dr. Atkinson oversees almost 1.5 million students in over 2,500 public schools. She has more than 35 years of experience in education. During her career, she has served as a chief consultant and director in the areas of business education, career and technical education, and instructional services within the NCDPI. A former business education teacher, Dr. Atkinson has been involved in instruction and curriculum development throughout her career.
She has received numerous awards over the years including recent accolades such as the Champion of Children Award from the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, the State Policy Maker of the Year Award from the National Association for State Educational Technology Directors, and North Carolina Association of Educators Inclusive Leadership Award. In addition, Dr. Atkinson has held many professional offices and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Council of Chief State School Officers.
Dr. Atkinson received a bachelor’s degree in Business Education from Radford University, a master’s degree in Vocational and Technical Education from Virginia Tech, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from North Carolina State University.