San Diego schools Superintendent Cindy Marten visits with Rep. John Lewis during his visit to Morse High School in 2018. Photo by Ken Stone

President-elect Joe Biden Monday nominated San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten to the post of deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

Marten has been SDUSD superintendent since 2013. She got her start as a teacher and school-wide literacy specialist in the Poway Unified School District and has worked as an educator for 32 years, including 17 years as a teacher and stretches as a principal and vice principal.

She worked for 10 years at Central Elementary in the City Heights neighborhood, where she established a biliteracy program, a hands-on school garden program, integrated arts education, after-school and preschool programs, a daycare center for employees’ children and a community health and wellness center for students and their families.

Marten was chosen as one of the 2018 Business Women of the Year by the San Diego Business Journal and was awarded the 2015 National Conflict Resolution Center Local Peacemaker Award.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse and a master’s degree in teaching and learning from UC San Diego.

Several hours after Biden’s announcement, the SDUSD Board of Education announced the selection of Lamont Jackson to fill the role as interim superintendent through at least the rest of the year — contingent on Senate approval of Marten’s appointment, likely to occur some time in February.

Jackson, the district’s Area 2 superintendent overseeing the Mira Mesa, Morse, University City and Clairemont clusters of schools, grew up in San Diego. He is a San Diego Unified graduate and has more than 25 years of experience in education, serving as a mentor, workshop presenter, educational consultant, teacher, site administrator and district administrator.

He gave credit to Marten for her leadership of the district.

“She’s about literacy and ensuring our children have all the core principles to succeed in life,” Jackson said. “The nation is so very fortunate right now.”

He said he would continue Marten’s work, with a particular emphasis on equity, inclusion and diversity. Jackson said the district will continue to follow scientific guidance in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and will not bring children and teachers into classrooms until it is safe to do so.

Jackson served as a classroom teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in San Diego. In 2000, he was named principal of Montgomery Middle School, becoming the youngest principal at the secondary level in the district.

Updated at 3:09 p.m. Jan. 18, 2021

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.