Willoughby replaces Superintendent Mike Ward, who is resigning his post effective Aug. 31. She will serve the remainder of his term.
"Tricia will bring a classroom perspective to the Department of Public Instruction. As a classroom teacher in our public schools, a 'teacher of teachers' at an education college, a public school parent and PTA volunteer, and as a state school board member make her the right choice for this position," Easley said. "I am confident that she will be an effective manager and a tireless champion for education throughout her service in this post."
Willoughby, a member of the Childhood Fatality Task Force, is currently an assistant professor in the School of Education at Meredith College, where she has taught since 1989. Since 2001, she has been serving as an at-large member of the State Board of Education.
Willoughby has been involved with the governor's effort to transform high schools through the New Schools Project, a program funded by the Gates Foundation to redesign high schools to better prepare students for the workforce and post-secondary education.
Willoughby's husband is Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. June Atkinson and Bill Fletcher are running for the seat in the November election.
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