Milwaukee Public Schools has appointed Darienne Driver, Ph.D., the district’s permanent superintendent following her three-month stretch in an interim leadership capacity.
Driver, whose appointment was effective Wednesday, is MPS’ first permanent female superintendent. She has replaced Gregory Thornton, Ph.D., who left MPS to serve as chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools at the start of July.
Thornton had been at the helm of MPS since July 2010.
MPS board president Michael Bonds, Ph.D., said in a statement that Driver is “the best candidate” for the job. The board plans to terminate its superintendent search contract as Driver transitions from acting superintendent into the district’s long-term leader.
“Dr. Driver is a visionary, highly-qualified and energetic educator,” Bonds said. “We are thrilled to have her lead us through this next chapter of MPS. The board has every confidence that Dr. Driver will continue to lead the district in a positive direction and continue our efforts and commitment to improve outcomes for children of the Milwaukee Public Schools.”
Driver has been with MPS since July 2012, when she was named the district’s first chief innovation officer. In that role, she juggled several priorities including working to improve outcomes at struggling schools and guiding the rollout of the Wisconsin Common Core State Standards in literacy and mathematics with help from community and district stakeholders. Driver also developed partnerships with educational organizations to assist in strengthening student achievement. Additionally, she maintained oversight of MPS’ contracted school services, which encompass alternative programming for at-risk students and non-instrumentality charter schools and turnaround models, according to the district.
“I am deeply appreciative of the board’s confidence,” Driver said in an announcement about her new role at MPS. “Working together with the board, administration, schools, students, staff, parents and the community, I truly believe anything is possible. If we stay focused on our core mission of teaching and learning and putting our students’ needs first, we will change the face of Milwaukee and the lives of our students and their families.”
Driver, who holds a doctorate in urban superintendency from Harvard University, previously served as deputy chief of empowerment schools for the School District of Philadelphia, where her focus largely centered on boosting achievement rates among underperforming students.
Her career in education has also included a position as coordinator of strategic management and accountability and special assistant to the superintendent in Clayton County Public Schools in Georgia.
She launched her career in Detroit Public Schools, where she served as an elementary school teacher.