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State Superintendent
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State Superintendent of Schools

Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.

Photo of Dr. Martirano

Dr. Michael Martirano began serving as West Virginia's 30th State Superintendent of Schools in September 2014. He is guided by the principle that he is a teacher first and foremost and believes children must be kept at the center of all decision making. His ultimate goal is to improve student achievement and ensure a college- and career-readiness education for all students in West Virginia. He is known as an educational transformer who has been able to turn around schools, school districts and a state with challenges.

Upon becoming State Superintendent, Martirano set a goal to visit schools in all 55 counties. He is of the firm belief that in order to teach a child well, you must know a child well. In that same sense, to lead a state well, you must know a state well. During Martirano’s “One Voice Tour,” he intentionally immersed himself in all things West Virginia and assessed West Virginia’s education system through the voices of students, teachers and staff.

In leading the Department of Education, Martirano outlined an aggressive entry and vision plan. He also worked with the West Virginia Board of Education, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, elected officials, community and business leaders, educational leaders, parents, teachers and students to institutionalize a five-year strategic plan which includes measurable goals and objectives for 2016-2020. His vision and strategic plan are based on the core value that all children can and will learn.

Under Martirano’s transformational leadership, West Virginia has observed notable success in the areas of early childhood literacy, graduation rates and career technical education. From 2014-15 to 2015-16, the state’s graduation rate increased from 86.5 percent to 89.8 percent, placing West Virginia in the top half of the nation for graduation rate percentage. West Virginia was also recognized as leading the nation in developing children’s literacy skills. West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace program will expand into all high schools by 2017 and has become a model for states across the nation.

Martirano is credited with leading a comprehensive community review of the K-12 academic standards which solicited input from education stakeholders throughout West Virginia. The review garnered more than 250,000 comments from more than 4,000 individuals and resulted in the repeal and replacement of the academic standards in West Virginia.

During a time of economic hardship, Martirano led a complete reorganization of the Department of Education to ensure the effective and efficient use of resources. The Department is now staffed with a skilled and innovative team that is poised to respond to the state’s education work.

As a risk-taker, innovator and charismatic leader, he consistently focuses his energy on improving academic success and building positive relationships. He was recently recognized as one of the 50 thought leaders and change makers shaping the future of K-12 education by In 2016, he was appointed by the West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to the Education Commission of the States. In 2015, he was chosen to serve a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the Council of Chief State School Officers. Martirano was also selected the 2009 Superintendent of the Year in Maryland, a 2010 Innovator of the Year by the Maryland Daily Record and the 2011 Jack Epstein Award for contribution to multicultural education in Maryland.

He has been an educator for more than 30 years and has amassed a wide range of educational and administrative experience through his work as a science teacher, principal and visiting professor at John Hopkins University. He served as superintendent of St. Mary's County Public Schools in Leonardtown, MD where during his tenure the 4-year graduation rate increased from the low 80s to an all-time high of 93.5%.

Martirano holds a Doctorate of Education degree in school management and instructional leadership from Nova Southeastern University, two Masters of Education degrees and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland.

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