Come the end of the year, Suellen Reed will give up her position as Indiana's superintendent of public instruction -- a post she has held since 1992.
North Putnam Community Schools Superintendent Murray Pride has known Reed since before she took office with the state, and said he will miss her "not only as an educational leader, but as a friend and colleague."
Reed was Indiana's first female chief state school officer, and she held the office longer than anyone else ever has. She was the 36th person to hold the post.
"Working over the past 16 years to advance the aspirations and achievements of our students has been among the most rewarding experiences of my life," Reed said in a statement released Friday. "However, I am ready to embrace new challenges and explore new opportunities."
Reed and Pride were "in the freshman superintendent's class together," Pride said. They began as school superintedents in the early 1990s, she in Rushville and he in Tell City.
"I've known Dr. Reed for quite a while," Pride said. "I think she's proven to be a good educational leader. We've grown by leaps and bounds since she's been in office. She's served us well and we'll miss her. Indiana has moved to the forefront in some things because of Dr. Reed."
Although he never had any in-depth dealings with Reed, South Putnam Community Schools Corp. Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt admired Reed.
"She's been a very good superintendent," he said. "I've always been very pleased with the work she's done."
When Reed came into office, Indiana was 34th in the nation with regard to high school graduates who pursued higher education. Today, the Hoosier State has a college-going rank of 10th.
Reed is "weighing offers from businesses and higher education communities," the release said.
"Suellen Reed has lived out a lifelong commitment to the future of Indiana's children," said Gov. Mitch Daniels in a statement. "She's a special person with a huge heart for kids and a genuine passion for ensuring that Indiana's children have every opportunity to become whoever they want to be."
Bernhardt also lauded Reed's commitment to Hoosier students.
"She really looked out for the welfare of the school corporations in the state," he said.
Pride always appreciated Reed's accessibility.
"It felt really good knowing there was someone in that office that you could always contact if needed," he said.
During her tenure Reed:
* Co-founded Indiana's Education Roundtable in 1998.
* Made it a priority to raise expectations for Hoosier students.
* Led the nation in developing a system for gauging educational progress through ongoing student assessments in the form of ISTEP+.
* Remained closely attuned to the educational concerns and accomplishments of local communities through regular visits to schools in all 92 of Indiana's counties.
Pride expressed admiration for Reed's dedication to her state job.
"She's a tough lady," he said. "Sixteen years in politics is a long haul."