GARY | The Gary Community School Corp. has chosen a former Gary educator and current Illinois school administrator as the new superintendent.
Cheryl Pruitt, a former chemistry teacher and principal in the Gary school district, was selected Friday.
Pruitt, who intends to relocate to her Gary hometown, said she was excited and humbled at the board's choice.
"I'm completely overwhelmed," she said. "I'm speechless. I am ready to come back home."
While Pruitt did not speak at the board meeting, afterward she said she intends to work hard to get students ready for the "22nd century." She said she will do that by focusing on leadership, accountability, efficiency and productivity.
During her tenure at the Gary district, Pruitt taught chemistry at Roosevelt. She also served as a principal at Ivanhoe and Bethune elementary schools.
The vote to appoint Pruitt was five in favor, with board member Rosie Washington voting no and Nellie Moore abstained; both said they had not been a part of the selection process at the end.
The board voted to appoint Gary administrator Edwyna Hord as acting superintendent effective immediately until Pruitt begins the job. It was five in favor, with a similar vote from Washington and Moore.
All of the board members commended former Superintendent Myrtle Campbell for the three years she served and the improvements she made during her tenure but said it was time for a change to move the district forward.
David King Jr., who will be a senior at West Side High School in the fall, said he will miss Campbell but is looking forward to getting to know the new superintendent.
"I didn't hear much about her, but I would like to get to know Dr. Pruitt better. Sometimes change can be a good thing," he said.
Pruitt, who starts July 1, will make $136,000 annually and was given a three-year contract.
Pruitt, a 1981 graduate of Roosevelt High School, was among 16 applicants for the top spot in Gary, including state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary.
Smith said Gary school officials offered the position to him but he chose not to take it.
"I chose not to take it for several reasons. It was a struggle for me to decide whether I wanted to continue my legislative career or take that position," he said.
Pruitt is assistant superintendent at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 in Illinois.
In addition to having worked in the Gary school system before, Pruitt was a senior educational program associate at Learning Point Associates, an educational consulting organization, and principal at Pembroke Community Consolidated School and in the Kankakee district.