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Education

Florida’s interim education chief named commissioner


Published:   |   Updated: September 17, 2013 at 03:36 PM

WEST PALM BEACH – Florida’s new education commissioner is Pam Stewart.

The Florida State Board of Education voted Tuesday to hire Stewart as the permanent successor to Tony Bennett. Bennett abruptly resigned from the job in August.

Stewart, 60, has been interim commissioner and began her teaching career in Hillsborough County,. The board decided to hire her for the permanent job instead of launching a national search.

Florida’s education system has had a tumultuous summer dealing with both the resignation of Bennett and continued controversy over its A-to-F grading system and the transition to new standards.

But board members said they decided to hire Stewart because she knows Florida’s system and is a supporter of Common Core State Standards.

Stewart becomes the fourth commissioner to serve under Scott since he took office in 2011.

In 1975, Stewart got her start in teaching in Hillsborough then moved to Marion County where she spent 25 years in education. She held several positions in Marion, including guidance counselor, district testing specialist and principal at Reddick-Collier Elementary and then at Vanguard High School.

She was named state deputy chancellor for educator quality in 2004. She served in that position until 2009 when she moved to the St. Johns County School District as deputy superintendent for academic services.

She returned to the state education department in 2011 as chancellor of public schools. She oversaw K-12 student achievement; curriculum, instruction, and student services; school improvement; and educator quality.

She has a bachelor of arts in elementary education/early childhood from the University of South Florida and a master of education in counselor education from the University of Central Florida. Stewart earned her certification in educational leadership at Stetson University.

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