Laura Encalade is the new chief of staff for the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Monday.

Laura Encalade

Encalade isn’t moving far. The director of policy and research for the State Board of Education since 2015, she led projects including the state’s standards review process for math, English, science and social studies and the redesign of Tennessee’s teacher prep report card.

A native of Memphis, Encalade previously worked at the Department of Education as deputy director for the state’s $500 million Race to the Top grant and the director of educator talent. Prior to living in Nashville, she taught seventh- and eighth-grade social studies in St. Louis.

Encalade begins her new job on Feb. 27 and replaces Jayme Place Simmons, now Gov. Bill Haslam’s special assistant for strategy and policy.