Minneapolis Public Schools has hired a longtime educator and principal to take the top job at Southwest High School.

Valerie Littles-Butler will lead the school starting July 1, according to a news release from the district.

Littles-Butler, who has 33 years of experience working in both St. Paul and Minneapolis school districts, said she craved a new challenge. She wanted it to be at St. Paul’s Central High School where she has worked as an administrator since 2015, but district leaders selected another candidate to replace Mary Mackbee, who recently retired as principal after more than five decades working for the district.

“It’s time to continue to grow,” Littles-Butler, 55, said in an interview. “I just want to try new things and broaden my skills.”

She said she chose Southwest because the school’s International Baccalaureate program mirrors that of Central High. Under her leadership, she said, she will make sure more students of color are taking advantage of those programs and that all students are college- and career-ready.

Littles-Butler becomes Southwest High’s fourth principal in just four years. She replaces Michael Favor, who recently accepted a new position as an assistant superintendent for Roseville Area Schools after completing one school year at Southwest.

Littles-Butler holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, where she also obtained her principal licensure and master’s degree. She earned her superintendent licensure from Minnesota State University and bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University.