Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker shared with school leaders on Tuesday that she will be stepping down from her position, effective April 1.

Her last day at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will be March 19.

Gov. Tim Walz has announced that the state’s top educational official will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller. Mueller has been overseeing the Office of Teaching and Learning, the Office of Student Health and Well-being, and the Office of Finance, Human Relations and Policy.

Dr. Mueller started her career at Mankato Area Public Schools (MAPS) in August 1997, teaching social studies. During her time at Mankato, she worked as a continuous improvement coach, professional development coordinator, and the director of teaching and learning.

Previously at the Minnesota Department of Education, she served as Assistant Commissioner, leading the Office of Teaching and Learning, and overseeing the Divisions of Academic Standards and Instructional Effectiveness; Career and College Success; Early Learning Services; Equity and Opportunity; School Support; and Testing and Assessment.

Dr. Mueller earned her doctor of education in leadership degree from St. Mary’s University. She earned her Specialist and K-12 administrative license, master’s degree in educational leadership, and a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The Education Commissioner oversees a department of more than 450 employees, charged with the mission of improving educational achievement for children from E-12. The commissioner works closely with Gov. Walz to promote a wide variety of education policies and initiatives focused on closing the achievement gap, supporting high-quality teaching, using innovative strategies to improve educational outcomes, and ensuring all students graduate from high school well-prepared for college, career and life.

Commissioner Ricker has been in the position for the two years. A native of Hibbing, she has taught in classrooms in St. Cloud and St. Paul in addition to Camas, Washington and Seoul, South Korea. She served as president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers union before being named executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers.