Loudoun County’s new superintendent of schools, who began his job Tuesday, has selected a new assistant superintendent for instruction, taking a top schools official from neighboring Fairfax County.

Terri Breeden, who has been in Fairfax since 2006, most recently served as assistant superintendent for professional learning and accountability. Breeden will succeed Sharon Ackerman, who is retiring after 15 years overseeing instruction in Loudoun.

Breeden, who received a doctorate in education from the George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, began her career as a classroom math teacher. In 1991, she was named teacher of the year at East Middle School in Nashville. She later served as a principal and as executive director of grades five through 12 in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School system.

In 2006, she became Fairfax County’s assistant superintendent for professional learning and training under former superintendent Jack D. Dale, overseeing discrimination and workplace harassment awareness training for the school system’s 22,000 employees. She also helped secure $1 million in grants from Apple Federal Credit Union to support the administration's new teacher orientation program.

She also led an effort to install “principals-in-residence” as mentors for new principals and promoted “instructional coaches” to help teachers in low-performing schools.

Dr. Terri Breeden (Courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools)

In recent years, Breeden became a proponent of the international PISA exam as a way to compare Fairfax students to peers in their age groups around the world.

About 690 Fairfax teenagers in a pilot study last year took the test. Students from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology magnet outperformed their U.S. peers and those from Shanghai who rank among the highest in the world on the exam.

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously passed a resolution last week honoring Breeden. School board members noted her ability to analyze reams of data and present it in a way that was easy to understand.

Fairfax superintendent Karen Garza said that Breeden’s work with the PISA test will help the school system better assess student achievement.

“That work will have a positive impact on the future of the school system,” Garza said to Breeden. “Your fingerprints will long be on that work.”