Ryan Wise (left) will replace Brad Buck (right) as director of the Iowa Dept. of Education
Ryan Wise (left) will replace Brad Buck (right) as director of the Iowa Dept. of Education
Ryan Wise (left) will replace Brad Buck (right) as director of the Iowa Dept. of Education

(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad today announced that he has named Iowa Department of Education deputy director Ryan Wise as the new director of the department. Wise, 39, will take the position on July 1, 2015, as current director Brad Buck transitions to a new position as the superintendent of Cedar Rapids schools.

“World-class education begins in the classrooms across Iowa, but having a leader as the state department’s director is critically important as we work to again make Iowa the leader in education,” said Branstad. “Ryan Wise has displayed exceptional leadership in the implementation of Iowa’s innovative, new Teacher Leadership and Compensation System and I am confident that he will continue leading the Iowa Department of Education in the right direction as we work to provide a globally competitive education for every child in Iowa.”

Wise has served as deputy director at the Iowa Department of Education since September 2013. He has led the implementation of Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation  system (TLC), including designing and executing the application and selection process, facilitating multiple statewide coordination teams, creating a principal support system and leading Iowa’s Commission on Educator Leadership and Compensation. In addition, Wise has served as the liaison between the Department and the Iowa State Board of Education, and has been the representative on the Iowa High School Athletic Association board of control and on the Governor’s Council for National Service.  He is also the administrator for the Department’s division of policy and communications.

“Though times have changed significantly since the one-room schoolhouses dotted Iowa’s landscape, our state’s commitment to providing every child a high-quality education has remained constant,” said Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Dr. Wise understands that modern education means looking at innovative teaching methods and preparing children for the careers of tomorrow. He has shown his commitment to rewarding exceptional Iowa teachers through the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System and will be a great asset as the next director of the Iowa Department of Education.”

Wise earned his undergraduate degree from Creighton University. He earned a Master of Public Administration from University Nebraska Omaha in 2008. He earned a doctorate of education leadership from Harvard University in 2013.

“I admire the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s commitment to providing every child in Iowa with the world-class education they deserve,” said Wise. “It has been a privilege to lead the implementation of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System that rewards great teachers.  I am now eager to accept a new challenge of leading the Iowa Department of Education at this critical juncture when we continue putting in place the transformational education reforms signed by Governor Branstad in 2013.”

Wise has made improving education his mission for his entire career. He was managing director for growth strategy and development for Teach for All from 2008-2010. He was the executive director of Teach for America in South Dakota from 2003-2008, where, among other achievements, he worked with both public and Bureau of Indian Affairs grant schools on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations to improve educational opportunities. He spent the first five years of his career as a history teacher at Omaha Central High School in Omaha, Neb., and Rosa Fort High School in Tunica, Miss.

Ryan and his spouse, Sacha, reside in Des Moines, Iowa. They have two children, Weston and Graham. The appointment is subject to Iowa Senate confirmation.

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