School superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson passed away yesterday evening after a reoccurring battle with cancer. She was only 55. Maria led school districts in Charleston, South Carolina, (where she was the first African-American superintendent) and Seattle. Most recently she was involved in the new “Education Achievement System” district in Michigan. Goodloe-Johnson, who I knew from a few professional overlaps, was not the natural glad-hander or political operator that you often see in those roles – and it cost her. But, she was genuinely committed to improving education – especially for those students persistently underserved by the system today. Maria wasn’t a “reformer” in the common use of that term today but she was hardly a fan of today’s status quo either and had some tough fights, especially in Seattle, to drive change. She leaves behind a family. In addition to that legacy she leaves one of hard work. A reminder of how, underneath all the back and forth in the public debate, there are a lot of people just trying, often tirelessly, to solve this problem.