Dr. Ken Wagner is officially Rhode Island’s new education commissioner.

He was unanimously approved by the Board of Education and the Council of Elementary and Secondary Education Monday night.

"I want to come in and learn about all the great stuff going on in Rhode Island,” said Wagner. I want to work with people to implement the initiatives that came out of the enacted budget, we also have a strategic plan that's made it's way that's been formed by feedback from thousands of Rhode Islanders all across the state."

The confirmation comes following a nationwide search. Governor Gina Raimondo announced Wagner as her pick last week. She explained to ABC 6 News why she thinks he is the best man for the job.

"He has high standards for students. He respects teachers and wants to provide support for teachers. He's committed to making sure that we have schools that are top notch,” said the Governor.

Wagner comes from New York where he served as a senior deputy commissioner for education policy.

He replaces Deborah Gist who held the position since 2009. Gist caught a lot of heat over her high stakes standardized testing.

"The word that I've been using when teachers have asked me and principals have asked me about how I'm feeling about this appointment has been cautious optimism. You know we've been through some tough times here in Rhode Island and there has been a feeling among teachers and principals that their voices haven't been heard,” said board member Colleen Callahan.


(C) WLNE 2015