Walsh said she believes the state's teachers, who have not been enthusiastic about some of the reforms the state has undertaken in the past several years, will be pleased with Lowery. "I think she has been very sensitive in Delaware to the kind of changes" that teachers are not usually comfortable with, she said.

"I am really glad to see Maryland look outside ... to bring in a great educator. It is going to be a real benefit to the state."

Adam Mendelson, a spokesman for the Maryland State Education Association, which represents teachers, said the organization is still learning more about the new chief, but "she is committed to collaboration and teacher input and strong external and internal communications, which are all real critical issues."

Carl Roberts, who represents Maryland's local superintendents, said Maryland's diversity of rural and urban districts is similar to Delaware's.

"We hope Dr. Lowery comes to Maryland looking to be collaborative, seeking to understand what makes Maryland different. Local superintendents will look forward to working with Dr. Lowery as we determine what initiatives are in the best interests of Maryland's children and assess our current reform initiatives ... to ensure that the learning needs of all children are being met."

Lowery was a fellow in the Broad Foundation's urban superintendents academy in 2004. The academy has produced a number of superintendents around the nation.

DeGraffenreidt said the board recruited Lowery through its search firm and narrowed its list of candidates to three finalists, all of whom were interviewed by O'Malley. Although the governor does not have an official say in who is appointed superintendent, DeGraffenreidt said O'Malley "agreed that all three would have been great for Maryland."

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that Lowery has been instrumental in Delaware's work to improve early education and reforms in K-12 education. "Lillian Lowery is a fearless leader and tireless advocate for children," Duncan said in a statement.

Brian Selander, a spokesman for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, said that Lowery "kept her teacher's heart in her move to the administration" in 2009. He said that when the Christina district was in serious financial trouble, "she helped us get out of that by bringing people together."

"Maryland is a larger stage for her, more kids for her to help," he said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Erica L. Green contributed to this article.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Lillian M. Lowery

Born: Gastonia, N.C.

Age: 57

Education: Bachelor's degree in English and secondary education from North Carolina Central University; master's in education in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina; doctorate of education in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.

Teaching experience: Taught middle and high school in Virginia.

Career: Delaware secretary of education; superintendent in Christina School District in New Castle County, Del; assistant superintendent in Fairfax County, Va; area administrator in Fort Wayne, Ind.; principal, Fairfax County,

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