ST. LUCIE COUNTY — After seven years as school superintendent here, Wayne Gent announced Wednesday he would retire at the end of the school year, the school district said in a news release.
Gent's retirement, effective June 30, ends his nearly 45 years of working in Florida's public-education system.
He was a teacher, basketball coach, assistant principal and principal for St. Lucie public schools between 1980 and 2000 before moving to the Palm Beach County School District, where he was appointed superintendent in 2011.
One of Gent's major successes, according to the news release, was helping secure a $12.5 million federal grant in 2017 to support three magnet schools: Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie, Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies and Fort Pierce Westwood Academy.
Those schools heavily focus on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
For School Board Chairperson Donna Mills, Gent, 67, embraced the "reaching one child a day" mantra, which was instrumental in improving graduation rates, she said.
"In 2010, when I came in, we were in low 60th percentile with graduation rates and that was very disturbing to me," Mills told TCPalm.
More than a decade later, the district achieved a historic graduation rate of 94.5% in 2021, ranking seventh in the state.
"I expected, to a certain extent, that he would be retiring within the next few years," Mills said. "I understand his decision completely. He will be deeply missed."
It's unclear how or when the district will launch its search for the next superintendent. That decision will be up to the School Board.
This story will be updated.
Olivia McKelvey is TCPalm's watchdog reporter for St. Lucie County. You can reach her at email@example.com, 772-521-4380 and on Twitter @olivia_mckelvey.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: St. Lucie Public Schools Superintendent Wayne Gent to retire after 7 years