The state Board of Education has selected the state’s next Commissioner of Education.

Missouri Commissioner of Education-designee Dr. Margaret Vandeven (courtesy; Missouri Department of Education)

Missouri Commissioner of Education-designee Dr. Margaret Vandeven (courtesy; Missouri Department of Education)

It voted unanimously for Dr. Margaret Vandeven, who has been with the Department for nine years and has most recently served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Learning Services. She will take over January 1, 2015 for Commissioner Chris Nicastro, whose retirement is effective at the end of this month.

In a statement, State Board president Peter Herschend wrote, “We believe in the positive impact of the Top 10 by 20 plan on Missouri’s children,” referring to the Department’s goal of getting Missouri students’ achievement in the top 10 of national rankings by 2020. “We strongly believe that Dr. Margie Vandeven is the right person to accomplish the goals of the plan.”

The Department says its Top 10 by 20 initiative will be a primary focus for Vandeven.

“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 Vandeven. “I stand ready to support our school districts and charter schools, working together to move Missouri into the top 10 in student performance.

Vandeven has been in education for 24 years. Prior to her work in the Department she spent 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.

Governor Jay Nixon issued a statement congratulating Vandeven on being selected.

“I congratulate Dr. Vandeven on being named to this important post,” wrote Nixon. “Missouri’s Commissioner of Education plays a critical role in helping to ensure that all children in our state have the opportunity to go to a good public school where they will learn the skills and knowledge they need to find success in college or career. I look forward to working with Dr. Vandeven, educators and school leaders, and the Missouri General Assembly as we move forward toward our shared goal of continuing to improve the quality of education for students in every community.”

She will speak to the media in a conference call this afternoon. Watch for further news on her selection.