Following interviews with five finalists, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to select Dr. Margaret Vandeven (pictured bottom right) as the next Commissioner of Education, effective January 1, 2015.
“We believe in the positive impact of the Top 10 by 20 plan on Missouri’s children,” said State Board President Peter Herschend. “We strongly believe that Dr. Margie Vandeven is the right person to accomplish the goals of the plan.”
Board members cited Dr. Vandeven’s strong background in education and extensive knowledge of education policy at the state and federal level as preparing her for the position. Her proven leadership in multiple capacities in the Department shows she is ready for the challenge. They also cited her drive and determination to make the Top 10 by 20 plan a reality.
“I am honored to serve as Missouri’s Commissioner of Education, and I am committed to and focused on doing what’s right for the children of Missouri,” said Dr. Vandeven. “I stand ready to support our school districts and charter schools, working together to move Missouri into the top 10 in student performance.”
Dr. Vandeven brings 24 years of education experience to the role, including the last nine years at the Department. She served most recently as the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Learning Services coordinating the work of the seven assistant commissioners. Dr. Vandeven’s previous experience consists of 13 years as an English language arts teacher and administrator in private schools in Missouri and Maryland. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Education at Missouri State University, Master of Education at Loyola College in Maryland and Doctor of Philosophy at St. Louis University.
A primary focus for Dr. Vandeven will be Missouri’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, a major improvement effort that aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states by 2020. The plan’s four goals include graduating all Missouri children ready for college and career; preparing all children for success in kindergarten; and preparing, developing and supporting effective educators.
Dr. Vandeven takes over the Commissioner’s office from Dr. Chris L. Nicastro, who retires effective Dec. 31, 2014. She will serve the state as the sixth commissioner of education.