By Jack King
Area educators on Thursday applauded Gov. Bill Richardson’s selection of Veronica C. Garcia as state secretary of education.
Garcia, an Albuquerque resident, a native New Mexican, and the executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, has seen the state’s education system from all levels, they said.
“I think we have the visionary leader New Mexico needs to take us to the next level. She’s a very, very good administrator,” said William D. Reents, superintendent of Tucumcari Municipal Schools and a member of the committee Richardson selected to choose the education secretary.
Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Neil Nuttall called Garcia “a top quality educator.”
“I’m very excited and optimistic. I feel positive about the direction in which she will lead our schools,” he said.
“I’ve worked with Veronica as president of the New Mexico School Superintendents Association and as a director of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, where she was executive director.
She’s just a dynamite person and has a very good feel for issues in New Mexico,” Nuttall said.
Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Jim Holloway called Garcia “a top notch educator.”
“She has been a classroom teacher, a principal and a superintendent. As superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools she came in when the district faced a huge deficit and left it with a surplus.
As executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators she has been able to have contact with and see the educational process around New Mexico, something very few people have had a chance to do in such detail,” he said.
State Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, also a member of the selection committee, said he missed the committee meeting when Garcia was interviewed, but knows she enjoys a good reputation among her peers.
“There were a couple of finalists I thought were really outstanding and this lady is probably in that group,” he said.
Garcia has a bachelor’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in educational diagnosis and a doctorate in candidate educational leadership, all from the University of New Mexico.