Indiana Governor Mike Pence and the leaders of the Indiana House and Senate have made their appointments to the new State Board of Education.

Lawmakers changed the make up of the Board, giving the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore two appointments and allowing the Board to choose its own chairperson in 2017.

The Governor’s new appointments are as follows…

  • Representing the First Congressional District, Eddie Melton has been appointed to serve on the SBOE through June 30, 2016. Melton, of Merrillville, works as Manager of Federal Governmental Relations and Community Relations at Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). Melton currently serves on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males after being appointed by Governor Pence.  He also currently serves as Midwest Regional Director on the American Association of Blacks in Energy. He received the “20 Under 40” Young Professionals Award from The NWI Times Media Company in 2011, and received his bachelor’s degree from Calumet College of St. Joseph.
  •  Dr. Vince Bertram, of the Fifth Congressional District, has been appointed to serve on SBOE through June 30, 2017. Bertram, of Zionsville, currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), headquartered in Indianapolis. He has also served as superintendent of Indiana’s third-largest urban school district and, in 2014, he was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve as the STEM education expert for the United States Speaker and Specialist Program. Bertram became a New York Timesbestselling author in November 2014 with the release of his book, One Nation Under-Taught: Solving America’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Crisis. He received his undergraduate, master’s, specialist, and doctorate degrees from Ball State University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University, and an executive certificate in strategy and innovation from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
  • Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, of the Ninth Congressional District, has been appointed to serve on the SBOE through June 30, 2016. Kwiatkowski, of Greenwood, currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement M.S.D. of Warren Township in Indianapolis. Previously, she held a variety of positions at the Indiana Department of Education, including Directorof School Turnaround, Director of Differentiated Learning, and Director of the Title I program. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana State University, her master’s degrees in elementary education and educational administration from Indiana University, and her educational specialist degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. She is currently working on her doctorate degree in education from Oakland City University.

The Governor reappointed the following members…

  • Dr. David Freitas, serving as the Second Congressional District appointee, has been reappointed to serve through June 30, 2018. Freitas, of Granger, has served on the SBOE since he was appointed by the Governor in June 2013. He has a vast array of experience and has served as a University Vice Provost, a College Dean of Education for more than 20 years, a professorof graduate-level university courses in educational leadership for more than 30 years, an elected city school board member, a State Department of Education official, a national and international invited speaker on education issues, a consultant for the U.S. Department of Education, and a public school teacher and administrator.
  • Cari Whicker has been reappointed to serve through June 30, 2019, representing the Third Congressional District. She has served on the SBOE since her appointment in April 2012. Whicker, of Uniondale, currently serves as a sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher at Riverview Middle School in Huntington.
  • Representing the Fourth Congressional District, Sarah O’Brien has been reappointed to serve on the SBOE through June 30, 2019. She has served on the SBOE since her appointment in April 2009. O’Brien, of Avon, currently works at River Birch Elementary School and will teach fourth grade next year.
  • Gordon Hendry, of Indianapolis, has been reappointed to represent the Seventh Congressional District on the SBOE through June 30, 2017, after first being appointed in September 2013. He is First Vice President of CBRE, Inc., where he serves as the Midwest regional leader of the company’s Public Institutions and Education Solutions Group.
  • Representing the Eighth Congressional District, BJ Watts has been reappointed to serve through June 30, 2018. He has served on the SBOE since his original appointment in 2012.  Watts,of Evansville, has taught at the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) since 2001, is a member of the Evansville Teachers Association and the Indiana State Teachers Association, and currently serves on the National Association of State Boards of Education.

House Speaker Brian Bosma named Dr. Byron L. Ernest to the Board.   Dr. Ernest is currently the Head of Schools for Hoosier Academies in Indiana. Previously, Dr. Ernest was the principal at Emmerich Manual High School (EMHS) in Indianapolis, which was a school taken over by the state after failing for seven years in a row, often referred to as a Turnaround Academy. Dr. Ernest was charged with leading a new staff and developing a culture of excellence where high student achievement and performance are the norm. Manual was taken off the “F” list under Ernest’s leadership and has the distinction of being the only takeover school in Indiana to be removed from the failing category. Prior to going to EMHS, Dr. Ernest was theDepartment Head for Agriculture and FFA at Lebanon Community School Corporation.  He was also the 2010 Teacher of the Year.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long appointed long-time Allen County educator Dr. Steve Yager to the Indiana State Boardof Education (SBOE). Yager’s four-year term on the Board will formally begin June 1 .  Long says   Yager has extensive experience in educational leadership, serving as Superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools for nearly two decades before taking the Superintendent’s job at Southwest Allen County Schools in 2009, where he served until his retirement last year.  In addition to his experience as a superintendent, Yager has served as a principal, school counselor, and teacher. He holds five advanced degrees in education-related fields, including a doctorate in secondary school administration from Indiana State University. In 2014, Gov. Mike Pence awarded Yager with a Sagamore of the Wabash award in recognition of his decades of service in Indiana’s public schools.

Photo: Chalkbeat Indiana