Chris Lee Nicastro has worked in education for over 40 years. Her career spans experience as a teacher, school administrator, superintendent and, most recently, as Commissioner of Education for the State of Missouri. Her career is most notable for her work with underserved populations including children of color and those who live in poverty. At the district level, she took two failing districts from very low performance to full accreditation by the state. At the state level, she confronted failing performance in both urban and rural settings. Her hallmark is her insistence on a quality school for every child.
Nicastro’s years as Commissioner were marked by a number of initiatives designed to improve student performance, eliminate achievement gaps, improve educator training and evaluation, and raise expectations for students and adults. As a result, student achievement improved, graduation rates increased, and the number of students taking advanced placement courses and tests increased.
Dr. Nicastro has been recognized by the University of Missouri in St. Louis and St. Louis University as a Distinguished Alumni. She is the recipient of many awards at the local, state and national levels. In 2009, she was awarded Missouri Superintendent of the Year, and in 2016 she was awarded Missouri’s highest honor–the Pioneer in Education Award–by the State Board of Education. She is a recipient of the AASA Effie Jones Award.
Nicastro continues to work as a consultant for the Council of Chief State School Officers, the U.S. Department of Education, and many districts. In addition, she is the co-founder and Chief Strategic Partnership and Marketing Officer of an educational technology start-up project—MathBRIX—which is developing a product for online math instruction for children age 4-8.
Dr. Nicastro earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University; a master’s degree in educational administration at the University of Missouri in St. Louis; and a Ph.D. at St. Louis University. She and her husband, Charles, have 3 children and 9 grandchildren.