NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) secretary is retiring. The governor announced the news on Saturday.

Former Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said he wants to focus on his health and family, but it’s been an honor to work for PED.

“I am deeply grateful to Secretary Steinhaus for his lifelong and tireless service in pursuit of improving educational outcomes for every New Mexico student,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “As a seasoned educator, his relationships with districts around the state have enormously benefited the work of the Department. Under his leadership, New Mexico teachers are now the highest paid in the region and educators have more tools to do what they do best – teaching New Mexico students. The state of public education in New Mexico is in a better place than ever because of Kurt’s dedication, and I wish him a very happy and well-deserved retirement.”

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve in Gov. Lujan Grisham’s administration alongside the hardworking staff of the Public Education Department and the outstanding educators of New Mexico,” said Steinhaus. “The governor’s vision for education is spot on, motivating, and visionary. I share her goal of working to improve the lives of children and families in each and every community, as I know educators and PED staff do as well. I am deeply proud to have given my best to this job, but at this time I have a critical need to focus on my family and health. I am grateful to the governor for giving me the opportunity to finish my career working on behalf of the state of New Mexico, and I know that she will continue to work to deliver the best possible public education system for New Mexico students, educators, and families.”

Steinhaus finished his last day with the department on January 27. Mariana Padilla, the Children’s cabinet director, will serve in his place for now.