Bernice Cobbs, a graduate of the Virginia Tech School of Education’s doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, has been named superintendent of the Franklin County Public Schools in Virginia after an exhaustive national search. She will formally assume the role on December 1, 2020.

Named the Virginia Middle School Principal of the Year in 2019, she has served as an educator and administrator in the Franklin County Public School system for her entire career. Past awards include the Ferrum College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008, the Virginia Lottery Excellence in Education Award in 2005, and Franklin County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2004.

A Franklin County native, Cobbs embodies the Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). She has contributed to and advanced public education through her many roles, including assistant principal of Franklin County High School, principal of Benjamin Franklin Middle School, director of K–5 curriculum and instruction, principal of Boone Mill Elementary School, and principal of Snow Creek Elementary School.

A lifelong learner, Cobbs earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Radford University, a master of education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Virginia, a bachelor’s degree from Ferrum College, and an associate’s degree from Virginia Western Community College, in addition to her doctorate from Virginia Tech.

“Networking has served me well throughout all aspects of my educational career, but especially when I was working on my doctorate from Virginia Tech,” Cobb said. “Surrounded by others who were working toward the same goal made all the difference in the journey. Bringing it forward, networking with, and learning from experienced superintendents will help me to do my very best for students, staff, and community.”

“Dr. Cobbs is exactly the kind of servant-leader our public schools need; we are so proud and privileged to have had her in our doctoral program,” said Kristin Gehsmann, director of the School of Education. “We wish her well in this new leadership role. We also congratulate her for her groundbreaking accomplishment as the first black superintendent in the Franklin County Public School system. May this be the first of many powerful firsts for our esteemed colleague!”

The Virginia Tech School of Education is a global catalyst for individual and social transformation though education, applied research, and advocacy. With programs for prospective teachers, educational leaders, school counselors, and leaders in higher education, students can find their own pathways to serve the greater good. To learn more, please visit the School of Education website.

Written by Sharon Stidham