Gendron Accepts National Position

Deputy Commissioner Faherty to become acting commissioner

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci announced today that Susan A. Gendron will leave her position as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education at the end of April.

Governor Baldacci also announced that Deputy Commissioner Angela Faherty will be named Acting Commissioner following Commissioner Gendron’s departure.

“Sue has helped to build a culture in Maine that all students need to graduate ready for college, career and citizenship,” said Governor Baldacci. “She does not accept that any of us have the right as educators, parents or politicians to decide some kids will never succeed or to lower our expectations for students. She has been a tremendous asset to the State, and I’m proud of the work she has done as Commissioner.”

Gendron is leaving the Department to become policy director for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of more than 35 states working to develop common assessments and to compete for a share of $350 million in federal Race to the Top education reform funds.

“I am proud of the work we have done in Maine to move forward an education reform agenda that positions our state to improve teaching and learning and prepare our students for college, careers and citizenship,” Gendron said. “From our world-wide recognition for integrating technology into the classroom to our pioneering work on implementing standards-based education, Maine is well-positioned to advance student learning.”

Gendron was sworn in as Commissioner in March 2003. During her tenure, Maine has joined with three other states to administer the New England Common Assessment Program, a common assessment for reading and mathematics.

Commissioner Gendron expanded Maine’s laptop program, which has provided notebook computers to all Maine middle school students since 2002 – making Maine the first and only state with a statewide 1:1 computing program, making laptops a possibility for every student in grades 7-12. The high school expansion, announced in June 2009, marks the world’s largest educational technology program of its kind, once again putting Maine at the leading edge in using technology to support education.

In 2005, Gendron worked with the Governor and Legislature to pass a new Essential Programs and Services formula, a model for funding education based on adequate and equitable resources for all students, to replace the former model which was based on prior year spending.

Commissioner Gendron has consistently pushed for high standards and aspirations for students. The number of high school students who have taken college courses has increased significantly; she helped craft legislation that requires high schools to offer multiple pathways for students to graduate and strengthened Career and Technical Education.

She worked to oversee the successful implementation of School Administrative Reorganization, the most sweeping education restructuring in Maine since the Sinclair Act of 1947. Under the reorganization law, Maine has reduced the number of school districts and streamlined operations so that more state and local tax dollars can go into programming, rather than to non-classroom operations.

She introduced the ReInventing Schools Coalition model of standards-based education to Maine. This method, which allows students to progress at their own speed and only move forward to new material after mastering previous material, is being piloted in two Maine school districts, with six to eight more strongly considering adoption. Commissioner Gendron oversaw a major expansion of early childhood programming, with 35 to 40 new programs in schools around the State, and worked closely with the First Lady to secure funding and implementation of the first Educare site in Maine, the first in New England, scheduled to open in Waterville this fall. This comprehensive early childhood program is designed to serve between 150 and 200 mostly low-income children from before they are born to age 5, during this most critical brain development stage. The goal is to measurably increase their school-readiness and significantly reduce unnecessary special education costs.

Commissioner Gendron has been a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Board since 2006 and is currently President of the national organization. In that position she has been at the forefront of national efforts to develop common standards and common assessments.

“My new national role is very exciting to me professionally,” she said. “I think I’ll be in a position to help Maine by having a seat at the national table. I will bring Maine’s voice to the national agenda and will continue to be in touch with folks here in Maine.”

Gendron has received many honors, including the Maine School Superintendents’ Distinguished Educator Award, 2001; the Maine Superintendent of the Year Award, 2002; the Maine Education Association – Friend of Education Award, 2005; the University of Southern Maine Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006; and the State Education Technology Directors Association – Pushing the Envelope Award, 2008.

Governor Baldacci praised Gendron for her work advancing standards-based education and innovative high school reforms.

Governor Baldacci said Maine will benefit from Commissioner Gendron’s continued high profile on the national education stage in her new work.

“Maine is a recognized world leader in technology and in the forefront of standards-based education. Sue’s involvement at the national level, bringing her experiences from Maine, will influence and guide national policy. Sue’s involvement gives Maine a seat at the table.”

Gendron said, “I have left the work in extremely capable hands. Angela Faherty has worked side by side with me on most of the major initiatives of the past six years since she joined the Department, and we share a vision for improving student achievement.

“The superintendents, principals, curriculum coordinators, special education directors and teachers that have worked collaboratively on this work over the years are now the owners of this work, and they will carry it forward.”

Governor Baldacci said Faherty’s appointment as Acting Commissioner following Gendron’s departure will assure a seamless transition.

“Deputy Commissioner Faherty is committed to continuing the shared vision for improving student achievement across the state,” Governor Baldacci said.

“She has a bold vision for excellence and equity, and has achieved results through effective management and collaboration. She has demonstrated expertise in supervision, evaluation, consultation, teaching, facilitation and development of quality professional development for educators and leaders. She is a true believer in establishing clear goals with a clear purpose, and building consensus.”

Faherty earned her bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York and received her master’s in Education from the City University of New York and a doctorate in Education from the University of Missouri.

She has been a classroom teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels in literacy development, special education, and gifted and talented in the New York City, Missouri and Salt Lake City school systems. She was assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa and adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine, St. Joseph’s College and Walden University.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education website

Contact: David Connerty-Marin | David.Connerty-Marin@Maine.gov | 207-624-6880