Thursday, October 12, 2006

Celebrating Leadership
State Superintendent Sandy Garrett

As the only woman in Oklahoma history to be elected to the constitutional post of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sandy Garrett is also the only Oklahoma woman elected to a statewide office for a fourth consecutive term.

Sandy Garrett was born in Muskogee and graduated from Stilwell High School. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Northeastern State University and pursued postgraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

After 15 years as a classroom teacher and gifted programs coordinator in Muskogee County schools, she joined the State Department of Education as Gifted and Talented Programs Coordinator then became Executive Director of Education Programs, which included rural education, technology, satellite instruction, media applications, and library resources.

Throughout her career, Superintendent Garrett has been an outspoken advocate for children and Oklahoma 's acknowledged leader in education reform and school improvement. Her pivotal role implementing the Learning by Satellite program and establishing a two-way interactive fiber-optic instruction system in the Panhandle region drew national attention to Oklahoma in the 1980s. In 1988, she was named Cabinet Secretary of Education by Republican Governor Henry Bellmon, a position she was later reappointed to by Democrat Governor David Walters.
She began her first term as State Superintendent in 1991.

As Chief Executive Officer of the State Department of Education, Superintendent Garrett has led the timely implementation of the mandates of Oklahoma 's landmark Education Reform Act of 1990 and the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Additionally, since taking office in 1991, she has downsized the Department, saving taxpayers a cumulative $52.7 million.

A hallmark of Superintendent Garrett's administration has been the development of Pre-Kindergarten programs to the extent that Oklahoma is recognized as the national model by the National Institute for Early Education Research. Increasing academic standards, improving reading skills, bringing technology to the classroom and making schools safer are also priorities Superintendent Garrett continues to pursue. In 2001, she received the prestigious Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America for her work promoting character education.

With her fellow members of the State Board of Education, school deregulation has been initiated, a uniform financial accounting system for schools enforced and Oklahoma's first state core curriculum adopted along with aligned assessments for accountability. Among Superintendent Garrett's initiatives is the nation's first statewide school safety hot line (1-877-SAFE-CALL, ext. OK1), which allows anonymous reports of suspicious or potentially dangerous activity in schools.
Her constitutional posts include Chair of both the State Board of Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education and membership on the State Board of Equalization, the Board of Regents of Oklahoma Colleges and the School Land Commission. The state superintendent also serves numerous other statutory roles both state and national.

In July 2004, she was elected treasurer of the Education Commission of the States.
Among numerous honors, Superintendent Garrett was named one of the “Fifty Making a Difference” in Oklahoma by The Journal Record. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame in August 2000, and is a member of the Northeastern State University Alumni Association Hall of Fame. In November 2000, she received the First Lady's Leadership in Literacy Award for her statewide efforts to improve reading instruction for children and expand literacy programs for adults.

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