Northam Taps Northern Virginia Middle School Teacher for Education Secretary

Dec 21, 2017

Governor-elect Ralph Northam names Beville Middle School teacher Atif Qarni as the next secretary of education.
Credit Michael Pope

Governor-elect Ralph Northam is filling out key Cabinet posts in the run-up to his inauguration next month, and this week he’s outlining his new education team.

Governor-elect Ralph Northam is reaching into a classroom at Beville Middle School in Prince William County to tap a civics and history teacher to become the next secretary of education. Atif Qarni is a former Marine sergeant who was named Dale City Teacher of the Year in 2016. 

“We have a culture where we are not trusting educators as much and not respecting them. So as an educator, as a K-12 teacher, I really want to look at polices in a way and address them to make sure that we are also trusting teachers in a way to allow them to teach the curriculum.”

Northam made the announcement in the library of the middle school, which was packed with student and teachers eager to see Qarni off to Richmond to oversee all of Virginia’s public schools as well as the community college system and 16 public colleges and universities.

“He is, I believe, the epitome of the American dream. It’s stories like Atif Qarni’s that make this country great that make the Commonwealth of Virginia great.”

Northam also announced that College of William and Mary lobbyist Fran Bradford will join his administration as deputy secretary focusing on higher education.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.