Dr. Monifa B. McKnight Appointed Superintendent of Schools
On Feb. 8, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Monifa B. McKnight as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Dr. McKnight, who currently serves as interim superintendent, will assume the permanent role on July 1, 2022, contingent upon contract negotiations and approval by the state superintendent of schools.
“With her long and distinguished record serving the MCPS community, Dr. McKnight is uniquely qualified to lead the district during this time,” said Brenda Wolff, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “She intimately understands the challenges our community faces and believes deeply in the limitless potential of our students and educators. The Board looks forward to working with her to provide every MCPS student a first-class education.”
With the announcement, Dr. McKnight becomes the first woman and the second person of color to be appointed to the superintendent position on a permanent basis.
Dr. McKnight has served as interim superintendent since June 1, 2021, following the retirement of Dr. Jack R. Smith. During that time, she has helped guide the district through a school year of unprecedented challenges while strengthening the district’s commitment to equity and excellence.
“I am honored by the trust the Board has placed in me to lead the district I’ve called home for 20 years,” said Dr. McKnight. “This is a moment that calls for leading with empathy while in pursuit of academic excellence. I plan to place my focus on understanding the educational needs and interests of students and teachers, while prioritizing the safety and well-being of everyone in our school community.”
The Board’s vote is the result of a months-long, national superintendent search that included a remarkable level of community involvement. The Board solicited feedback through three public forums, a districtwide survey, and a series of focus groups and individual interviews. Additionally, panels of community members interviewed a diverse slate of four finalists for the superintendent position. In total, more than 5,000 community members, including parents and educators, engaged in the selection process.
Dr. McKnight has had a long and accomplished career in MCPS, having served as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. She first joined MCPS in 2001 as a teacher at Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology.
Dr. McKnight was honored as the 2015 Maryland Middle School Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals and as the 2015 Maryland State Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She received this honor during her fifth year as the principal of Ridgeview Middle School.
She also served as a Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow for the U.S. Department of Education in 2016. Prior to her role as interim superintendent, she was deputy superintendent of MCPS. She was also the chief school management and instructional leadership officer for Howard County Public Schools. Prior to her tenure with Howard County, Dr. McKnight served as director for secondary leadership development programs for MCPS.
A native of South Carolina, Dr. McKnight holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Bowie State University and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy from the University of Maryland in College Park.