Joe Graves named South Dakota’s new Department of Education Secretary

January 4, 2023

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Tuesday that she has appointed the superintendent of the Mitchell School District to be the next Department of Education secretary.

Joe Graves will assume his new role on Jan. 10. He replaces Secretary Tiffany Sanderson, who has taken a job as president of Lake Area Technical College.

Graves has been the superintendent in Mitchell since 2000, and served as a superintendent in several Iowa school districts from 1991 to 2000. He started his teaching career in 1986.

“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 a news release.

Graves 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.

He was awarded “Educational Advocate of the Year” by the School Administrators of South Dakota in 2018, and that year he was also named as “Administrator of the Year” by the South Dakota Music Educators Association.

Graves said in a news release that he was humbled by Noem’s confidence in him.

“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.