PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Mitchell School District’s long-time superintendent will be joining Governor Kristi Noem’s administration as her cabinet secretary of education.

Official word that the governor had chosen Joe Graves came Tuesday afternoon. His first day will coincide with the start of the South Dakota Legislature’s session on January 10.

He has been superintendent at Mitchell since 2000. His likely selection had been rumored since last week.

Graves will succeed Tiffany Sanderson, who started January 1 as president for Lake Area Technical College at Watertown.

“Joe is a wonderful fit to lead our Department of Education and to help me achieve our goal of making South Dakota the leader for K-12 education in the nation,” Noem said in the announcement.

Graves said he was “humbled” by the selection.

“I have observed the positive change Governor Noem has made in our school systems up close as a superintendent. Now, I am excited to play a more significant role in reforming our schools and raising the bar for what students and teachers can both achieve,” he said.

Graves will be the governor’s third secretary of education in five years. Sanderson replaced Ben Jones, who is now the state historian.

Noem also recently appointed Melissa Magstadt as health secretary to replace Joan Adam and named Matt Althoff as social services secretary to succeed Laurie Gill.

Graves was born in Sioux Falls and was a superintendent in Iowa prior to joining the Mitchell school system.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of South Dakota; several education administration degrees from Drake University; a teaching certificate from the University of Iowa, and a bachelor’s degree in political science, psychology, and sociology from South Dakota State University, according to the announcement, and was awarded “Educational Advocate of the Year” by the School Administrators of South Dakota in 2018.