Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.

A “hands-on visible leader” and “high-quality education” is what teachers and students at Muncie Community Schools can expect from Muncie Community Schools’ (MCS) new director of public education and CEO. 

Lee Ann Kwiatkowski was appointed to her new position at a special MCS Board meeting Monday at Muncie Central High School.

Kwiatkowski's 35-year career in education included:

  • Senior education advisor to Gov. Eric Holcomb
  • Chief of staff at the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) 
  • Assistant superintendent at Warren Township Schools
  • Principal of Early Childhood Center in Warren Township Schools
  • Director of Title I and school improvement for IDOE
  • First-grade teacher at Indianapolis Public Schools

Kwiatkowski said she was “excited and honored” to serve in her new role and noted that the school district was “very different” from others across the country.

“The unique governance structure as well as the ability to be innovative will truly let us be a model for others,” she said. “I am very excited on the accomplishments that you have seen from last year.”

The former senior education advisor to Gov. Eric Holcomb and chief of staff for the Indiana Department of Education thanked Steve Edwards, interim superintendent administrator assistance at MCS, for his work and was “looking forward to building on that momentum.”

“I have dedicated my 35-year career to my passion and that is the education of children with a philosophy of putting students first,” she said.

Jim Williams, MCS board president, said in a survey distributed to 350 teachers, 80 of which were returned, focusing on what they wanted to see from the new CEO and recommendations for the position, Kwiatkowski’s name was widely mentioned.

“There are a lot of eyes on the story we are going to write in Muncie,” Williams said.

Her experience in the classroom was something he said was the main thing that stood out when choosing her.

Kwiatkowski’s career in education began as a first-grade teacher at Indianapolis Public Schools where she worked in “highly-diverse, high-poverty schools.”

“I understand the significant challenges of urban education,” she said. “I also recognize that it can be the most rewarding and fulfilling job.”

She said she loved leading teachers and administrators, took great pride in improving school systems and believed her new role was “the most exciting job in the State of Indiana if not the nation.”

“My main goal is that all students get a top-notch education and that all students are prepared for their next step in life, college, or their career and they’re ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way,” Kwiatkowski said.

Kwiatkowski’s contract is for three years at $165,000 per year, Williams said, and she will officially begin her term July 11.

Concluding her speech, she requested families who left Muncie to come back and enroll in MCS for the “many great educational opportunities” it provides.

Kwiatkowski said she would be meeting with stakeholders in the community to “address the challenges” and “build on the successes” together.

“I have high expectations of others and even higher for myself,” she said. “I understand my obligation and I am very committed to this community.”

Contact Jake Merkel with comments at jamerkel@bsu.edu.