Virginia Roach, an experienced educator, university dean, and extensively published scholar on educational reform, has been chosen as the next executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
Roach has been the dean of the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University since 2015 and previously held the same position at Bank Street College of Education in New York. She began her career teaching special education before moving into administration and has published more than 100 scholarly writings examining educational policy, inclusivity in schools, and leadership development, among other topics.
Through her career, Roach says, there has been a consistent thread: "I have always had a keen focus on meeting the needs of diverse students. If academic needs are not met at either end of the spectrum, students are not happy and not productive and it is a waste. … The fundamental role of education is to make sure every student has the opportunity to work at the top of their potential."
For more than 40 years, the Center for Talented Youth has developed the talents of academically advanced pre-college students from around the world through its offerings of summer, online, international, and family programs. As a nonprofit center, it also engages in research, advocacy, and counseling to support gifted education.
Roach was selected in a comprehensive nationwide search earlier this year, and she will begin on Aug. 3. She succeeds Elaine Tuttle Hansen, who stepped down at the end of 2018. CTY's Senior Director of Research Amy Shelton, who is also associate dean for research at the School of Education, has served as interim executive director since January 2019.
Roach says she is interested in continuing to take a research-oriented approach to her work, in particular to understand what theoretical concepts about defining gifted and talented students transcend cultures, and what ideas or attitudes can create barriers that may stand in the way of assessing and supporting academically gifted students.
She says CTY has done a lot of work in this area and can continue to "dig very deeply into the way students are assessed and identified for these programs and ensure we are really picking up their capabilities irrespective of their gender, race, or culture."
Roach earned her EdD in educational administration at Teachers College, Columbia University and an MAS in public administration from Johns Hopkins' School of Continuing Studies, a precursor to the current School of Education and Carey Business School. She has a BA from Michigan State University in special and elementary education. She served as the deputy executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education and was a professor and chair of the department of educational leadership at George Washington University.
She has also served as a board member for the International Society of Educational Planning, the United Nations International School, and the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate.
Fordham News reported that, in her five years as dean, she has supported faculty research, strengthened the university's relationship with the local community, and diversified the student and faculty populations. She helped create an annual program that hosts hundreds of middle school students from New York City Catholic schools at Fordham to help them envision themselves on a college campus.
In March, Roach was recognized among 35 outstanding women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. The magazine said she "trailblazes ways for women in academia" not only by serving as the first woman in several positions she had held but also through significant research and mentoring others.
"Virginia Roach has a formidable track record as a higher education administrator and a deep understanding of the needs of—and assessment approaches for—different learners, in particular in the special education context," says Sunil Kumar, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. "She also demonstrated to the search committee that she has a deep commitment to educating students who are not satisfactorily served by the current K-12 education system. We are excited to see her lead CTY to continue its mission as an innovative world leader in gifted education."