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Minnesota education commissioner resigns, replaced by deputy

ST. PAUL — Minnesota education commissioner and longtime teacher Mary Cathryn Ricker is stepping down after two years to return to the classroom, Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday.

Ricker said in her resignation letter that she feels “the pull to spend my time and energy in classrooms working safely alongside them helping students.” She said the coronavirus pandemic is not impacting students and families equally and wants to provide “more direct service and support” to students and teachers.

Walz selected Deputy Education Commissioner Heather Mueller to take over the agency, starting on April 1.

“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,” Walz said in a statement.

Ricker said she will share details of her next role “in the coming months.”

Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said Ricker led an unprecedented move to distance learning in the spaan of one week during the middle of a crisis.

“I remember that first news conference after COVID-19 closed the school buildings,” Sprecht said in a statement. “She was calming, grounded and inspirational.”