State Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven is resigning, effective July 1. She made the announcement during today’s Missouri Board of Education meeting.

Vandeven has served as the Commissioner of Education for more than seven years. She has led the state department of roughly 1,700 workers through the pandemic, the rollout of a new K-12 accountability system, among other things.

“After giving this considerable reflection, it’s just the right time for me personally and professionally to move on to a new opportunity that I haven’t discovered yet,” said Vandeven. “But I wanted to make sure that the State Board of Education had plenty of time to make the right choice as President Shields outlined and wanted to have a smooth transition.”

The commissioner received a standing ovation at the end of her announcement today and several board members praised her work over the years.

“Commissioner Vandeven has led the department through unprecedented events and challenging times, but her focus has never wavered — she always works to do what’s best for students,” said Board of Education President Charlie Shields. “Missouri is better because of Margie’s service to our state, and I know stakeholders across the state will join me in thanking her for her commitment.”

“Margie has been a true champion for public education and a steadfast leader throughout her tenure as Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” said Gov. Mike Parson. “During COVID, Margie kept a level head and successfully led Missouri schools through a global pandemic. Margie will be missed, but my team and I wish her the best. We are grateful for her commitment and dedication to our Missouri administrators, teachers, students, and parents.”

Missouri School Boards’ Association Executive Director Melissa Randol responded to the commissioner’s resignation.

“Commissioner Vandeven’s announcement of her resignation at the end of the fiscal year gives us pause to celebrate the work of a transformational leader whose dedication to Missouri’s children has been unwavering and inspiring. She provided guidance and leadership to Missouri’s K-12 systems during some of our state’s most challenging times, staying laser focused on ensuring a quality education for every child. We remain committed to continuing the legacy of excellence she has fostered.”

Joylynn Pruitt-Adams, superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District, said she’s known Vandeven for a long time.

“I was superintendent in Missouri, then I left and went to Illinois. And when I came back, she greeted me with open arms. She is one of the reasons I went to Riverview Gardens because of her belief in the district, and my joint belief in that district, and the potential that it has. So I am there because of her,” said Pruitt-Adams. “She is the one commissioner that I have on speed dial. And whenever I’ve called her, even if she’s busy, she’ll pick up and say, ‘Joylynn, I’ll call you back.’ Or she’ll text me and say, ‘I will call you back.’ When things happen in my district, even when I was superintendent in University City, she picked up the phone and called just to check on me to see how I was doing at that point in time. One of our most recent superintendent meetings, it was kind of a heated meeting, and I had to leave. She immediately called me to make sure I was okay and was there anything that she could do to support me. She truly has a heart and she will be missed.”

Was the commissioner asked to resign?

“Aside from a few random social media posts over the years, I have never had anyone asked me to step down. This was very personal to me and I did it with deep reflection and tried to be very thoughtful and timely about how that would roll out,” she said.

The Missouri Board of Education is responsible for finding her replacement. Vandeven said she announced her resignation now to give the board ample time to complete the process of finding a successor, pledging to work tirelessly in her final months on behalf of Missouri students and educators.

In her remaining months, Vandeven said she wants to focus on teachers and the educator workforce. She also wants to work on competency-based learning. This type of learning is based on students showing that they have learned the knowledge expected of them before moving to the next level in their education.

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