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Katie Jenner was named Indiana’s first secretary of education Thursday.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the appointment. Jenner has been serving as Holcomb’s senior education adviser for the last year.
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It’s the first time the state’s top education official has been appointed, rather than elected, and the position will be a key one in the coming year as the state’s public schools continue to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what we know about Jenner so far:
She takes office next year.
Her term officially begins Jan. 11, 2021.
Jenner will lead the education department.
Quite simply, the secretary of education is the state’s chief executive officer of Indiana Department of Education. They also serve on the State Board of Education. Traditionally, the superintendent has served as chair of the board but it is no longer required. Current state superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick gave up her position as chair, but still serves on the board.
Jenner is the first appointed education secretary in Indiana.
The Indiana General Assembly passed a law in 2017 to transition from an elected superintendent of public instruction to an appointed secretary of education, but set the transition date at 2025. After McCormick announced she would not seek a second term, lawmakers accelerated the timeline to 2021.
Jenner will get a salary bump.
Jenner’s salary next year will be $175,000, a considerable jump from what McCormick made in the position. State records show McCormick’s salary in 2019 was $113,103.38.
As Holcomb’s education advisor, Jenner makes $161,000 annually.
Jenner is a former teacher.
Jenner started her teaching career in Kentucky, where she was born and raised. She taught for three years at Larry A. Ryle High School in Union, Ky., near Cincinnati, working as a career and technical education teacher with a focus on business.
In 2009, she made the move to administration with Madison Consolidated Schools.
She also has administrative experience.
After teaching, Jenner moved into the administrative side of education. She spent one year as the assistant principal at Madison Junior High School and then two years in the same role at Madison Consolidated High School.
In 2012, she moved into the Central office to work as the senior director of learning and title programs. She spent her last few months with the district as an assistant superintendent.
In late 2018, she joined Ivy Tech Community College as vice president of K-12 initiatives and statewide partnerships.
Last year, she became Holcomb’s senior education advisor.
Jenner earned her undergraduate degree from Transylvania University, her master’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky, an MBA from Indiana State University and her doctorate of education from the University of Kentucky.
Reaction has been largely positive.
Most education officials and organizations sent out notes of support for Jenner’s appointment Thursday. Some teachers expressed hesitation on social media after seeing her relatively little experience in the classroom and support from school choice advocates but the Indiana State Teachers Association and other public school organizations issued positive statements.
“As the governor’s Senior Education Advisor, Dr. Jenner is someone ISTA has worked with on several education issues,” said ISTA President Keith Gambill. “Her experience in K-12 education as a teacher and administrator is critical experience ISTA sought for Indiana’s first Secretary of Education. We look forward to working with Dr. Jenner to bring leaders together to invest in public schools, support Hoosier educators and provide the highest quality public education for our students.”
Jenner is also a parent.
Jenner is the mom to twin fifth-grade girls. They attend Madison Consolidated Schools. Her husband, Joe Jenner, is a lawyer in Madison and the grandson of former US Sen. William Ezra Jenner.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: What you need to know about Katie Jenner, Indiana’s first Secretary of Education