A. Pender Makin, Maine’s new education commissioner, talks about her goals for public schools. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

AUGUSTA — A. Pender Makin has worked as a deckhand on a deep-sea fishing boat, a classroom teacher, a principal for an alternative high school and an  assistant superintendent.

Now she’s the state’s education commissioner.

According to her bio on the Department of Education’s web page, Makin, 54, grew up in Saco, attended local schools and graduated from Thornton Academy. From the age of 8, she spent summers working on her father’s fishing boat.

She earned degrees from the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England.

From 1997 to 2003 she taught at Fred Wescott Junior High in Westbrook. From 2003 to 2015 she was principal of the Regional Education Alternative Learning School on Mackworth Island in Falmouth, a service-based alternative high school for students who struggled in traditional settings.

In 2015 she became assistant superintendent for the Brunswick School Department, a post she held until being tapped by Gov. Janet Mills for commissioner.

Some of the organizations she’s worked with include the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, a professional development group called Collaborative for Perpetual Innovation, and a number of legislative work groups and committees.

For the 2013-14 school year she was named Maine Principal of the Year and has received the Milken Educator Award, a national recognition for teachers who have shown exemplary accomplishments.

She lives in Scarborough with her husband, Mike, a middle school science teacher, and their two rescue dogs.

She answered a few questions for us:

Q: Once the 10 public charter schools allowed by Maine law are established, should there be more?

A: I believe we need some time to fully examine the impact and success of the charter schools we have before making this decision.

Q: The Maine Department of Education has had a revolving door of commissioners over the past eight years. A common complaint from districts is a lack of leadership from Augusta. Do you plan to stay a while?

A: Yes! I hope to be here for at least eight years!

Q: What are your top goals, and what do you hope for Maine schools five years from now?

A: My top goals are to reinvigorate public trust in the Department of Education and in Maine’s education system; build capacity so that we can provide information, technical assistance, professional development, resources and support to our districts and schools; eliminate the teacher shortage by offering a fair starting salary and by elevating and celebrating the professionalism of our educators.

Q: What would you like Mainers to know about you?

A: I believe our public education system is the best and only hope we have for our future as a democratic society, and I will work tirelessly to defend and protect it. I am committed to ensuring the very best educational experiences and opportunities for Maine’s learners.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: