Minnesota's education commissioner Mary Ricker has announced she will resign effective April 1, with her replacement already announced by Gov. Tim Walz.
In an announcement from the governor's office, it says that Ricker resigned on Monday and that she's stepping down to spend more time in the classroom with Minnesota students. You can read her resignation letter here.
Taking her place will be deputy commissioner Heather Mueller, whose appointment was confirmed by Walz on Tuesday.
Mueller, who has a 24-year career in education that started at Mankato Area Public Schools in August 1997, spent 11 years as a classroom teacher and has held numerous positions within the Minnesota Department of Education.
"I am proud to appoint Heather Mueller as Commissioner of the Department of Education,” said Governor Walz. “Heather is deeply committed to the success of our students, families, and schools, and there is no better person to lead our state at this critical moment."
“It is an honor to step into the role of Commissioner of Education and to continue serving our students, families, educators, state librarians, and school communities,” said Deputy Commissioner Mueller.
"Minnesota’s students and teachers have shown resiliency and perseverance this past year, and I look forward to partnering with our school communities to meet their diverse needs as we recover from this pandemic and continue building the best education system in the nation for each and every student in Minnesota.”
Ricker resigns after arguably the most challenging year for education in recent memory, with schools having to switch to distance learning following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are only now resuming in-person classes with any regularity.
Her tenure has been praised by teaching union Education Minnesota, whose president Denise Specht says she "speaks to teachers like a teacher."
"I remember that first news conference after COVID-19 closed the school buildings. She was calming, grounded and inspirational," she said. "She made educators feel like they could make the unprecedented transition to distance learning during a health crisis in a week. It was just what educators needed to hear."