GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A Piedmont Triad superintendent is stepping away to take on a new role.

At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, the superintendent of Guilford County Schools Sharon Contreras will be taking a position as the CEO of a nonprofit called The Innovation Project.

“We CAN build brighter futures for our children.  While the pandemic has exacerbated long entrenched challenges and inequities, it has also called us to harness our creativity and will to innovate.  Building on the extraordinary legacy of The Innovation Project, my vision is to use its significant human, social, and political capital to galvanize adults and children to think, act and work in new ways to achieve outsized gains in student outcomes and eradicate racial achievement gaps that ultimately hold us all back from realizing our individual and collective potential,” Contreras said in a statement.

According a press release, during Dr. Contreras’s tenure, Guilford County Schools has increased academic achievement in all tested subject areas at all levels and for all demographic groups (in 2019) and narrowed racial achievement gaps. The district has dramatically increased student participation in tuition-free dual enrollment programs, achieved a graduate rate of 91.5%, and set a district record with seniors earning more than $193 million in college scholarships and grants.

“Dr. Contreras has provided extraordinary leadership in these dynamic times.  Even prior to the pandemic she was relentless in keeping us focused on what we can and must do to improve outcomes for students.  She is creative, courageous and brilliant.  We will miss her but remain grateful for all the ways her contributions here will be felt for years to come,” said Deena Hayes-Greene.

“We are excited that Dr. Contreras will be lending her experience and expertise to The Innovation Project,” said Dr. Kim Morrison, Chair of TIP’s Board of Directors and Superintendent of Mt. Airy City Schools. “She is a well-known leader throughout the country and has led efforts in innovation and equity in her amazing career. The Innovation Project is a national leader in innovation, and Dr. Contreras will continue to champion work for children through this great superintendent-led organization.”

Contreras will continue to lead Guilford County Schools through the end of the academic year and will start with The Innovation Project in August, 2022.

Contreras was named superintendent of Guilford County Schools in 2016, and she was the first woman, first Latino person and second African American person to hold that title.