Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins late Thursday announced her retirement from the school division. It goes into effect May 31. 

Atkins’ retirement comes after 15 years as superintendent of the school division — one of the longest tenures in Virginia. 

“I’m so honored to have served the students, families, staff, and community of Charlottesville,” Atkins said in a CCS news release. “It’s been a pleasure to serve and work alongside such tremendous people. I’ve actually postponed this decision for a while due to the pandemic, but I’m at a point where I want to spend less time as superintendent and more time as Nana.” 

Since becoming superintendent in 2006, Atkins has earned numerous accolades. In 2011, she was named Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, as well as Virginia State University Alumnus of the Year for Professional Education.

She was also recognized as one of two national finalists for the 2017 AASA Women in School Leadership Award for Superintendents sponsored by the School Superintendents Association and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among other awards. 

Atkins’ tenure at the school division is characterized by falling suspension rates and rising student achievement throughout CCS schools. Suspension rates in the division have fallen 80% in recent years, and graduation rates for Black students have remained at or above 96% for the last two years. 

Initiatives undertaken during Atkins’ time as superintendent include a reimagining of the division’s gifted education program and establishing a dedicated supervisor of equity. 

The division’s release also pointed to the creation of a locally-supported preschool program for 3-year-olds, investment in STEM education and commitment to fine arts programs as highlights of Atkin’s tenure. 

In the release, School Board Chair Lisa Torres praised Atkins’ dedication to equitable education and to the division’s students. 

“We thank Dr. Atkins for her calming presence, her bold work to promote equity, and above all, for her commitment to children,” Torres said. “We especially appreciate her staying on to give a steadying hand this past year during the pandemic. We are sorry to see her leave, but we support her and wish her all the best in the next chapter. ”

Atkins currently chairs a Virginia work group dedicated to guiding school divisions’ efforts to help students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students returned to in-person learning in CCS classrooms Monday. 

“While it’s bittersweet to leave Charlottesville City Schools, I know my colleagues and Board members will continue to provide great leadership,” Atkins said in a statement. 

The division’s contract with Atkins was renewed in 2018 to last through the 2022-23 school year.


Ali Sullivan is a graduate of the University of Virginia. She received a B.A. in Media Studies and Government in 2020.