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College of Education > News and Publications > 2019: 04-06 news > Secretary of education to deliver commencement address

Secretary of education to deliver commencement address

State Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera will deliver the keynote address at the College of Education ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 5, in the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's University Park campus.

Portrait of Pedro RiveraPedro A. Rivera will deliver the keynote address at the College of Education ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 5, in the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's University Park campus.

Rivera, a Penn State alumnus, was appointed as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education by Gov. Tom Wolf and confirmed unanimously by the state Senate in 2015. In that role, he also serves as an ex-officio member of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Rivera brings extensive experience in public education to his role in Wolf's Cabinet and has spent his entire career helping students. Prior to his appointment, he served as superintendent of The School District of Lancaster.

Under Rivera's leadership, the district developed and implemented a new curriculum, an aggressive professional development plan and innovative classroom observation tools. These initiatives resulted in an increased graduation rate, notable improvements in math, science and writing proficiency scores, and enhanced the level of participation from high-performing students in programs that help prepare them for college and other post-graduation opportunities.

Additionally, he was a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and executive director for the School District of Philadelphia, as well as a staff member with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. He also served as president of the Philadelphia Association of Hispanic School Administrators, and was an adjunct professor at LaSalle, Arcadia and Millersville universities.

In September 2014, he was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his efforts to transform urban education – one of 10 recipients nationwide to receive the prestigious honor.

As Secretary of Education, he has traveled the Commonwealth meeting with educators, administrators and students on the Schools That Teach tour, discussing their priorities and needs, and taking those insights back to Harrisburg.

Under his leadership, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has engaged thousands of stakeholders to inform the department's work on issues such as reforming graduation requirements, establishing the PA Future Ready Index, crafting Pennsylvania's Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan, and the creation of an Innovative Teacher and Principal Residency Program to implement or expand evidence-based teacher and school leader residency models at universities in Pennsylvania.

Rivera also spearheaded the creation of the Superintendent's Academy, a first-of-its-kind, two-year professional development program designed for district leaders serving in high-poverty areas, urban and rural, across the state.

Rivera, a first-generation college graduate, earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Penn State, a master's degree in education administration from Cheyney University, and his superintendent's letter of eligibility from Arcadia University.

Annemarie Mountz (April 2019)