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Dr. Ken Wagner: A Brief Introduction

To strengthen the Rhode Island economy and to create jobs and careers over the long term, we have to provide all Rhode Island learners with access to high-quality education that will prepare them for success in life. Governor Gina M. Raimondo has selected Dr. Ken Wagner as the person to lead the way as Rhode Islanders continue working together to transform our schools.

Ken Wagner is an educator who is prepared to lead, to learn, and to listen. He is a proven and experienced educational leader who believes in the importance of continuously engaging teachers, parents, and students in an ongoing conversation about public education. This constant open and honest dialogue, Ken believes, is the best way to make sure our schools reflect the diverse communities they serve and that our schools provide excellent educational opportunities to all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status, or special learning needs. 

Ken believes that we all share responsibility for excellence in education and that everyone has a stake in the outcome: teachers, families, employers, labor leaders, elected officials, community leader, and, most of all, students.  

He learned early on how important it is to engage and listen to teachers and students. He has served in diverse roles within public education in New York State, including being elected to his local school committee at age 18. He started his professional career as a school psychologist, providing counseling and crisis services and conducting violence-prevention training for staff members. He later moved into leadership positions, serving as an assistant principal then a middle-school principal in the Shoreham-Wading River School District on Long Island.

Ken joined New York State Education Department in 2009, and most recently served as Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy, responsible for the overall operations for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education services. During his time at the N.Y. State Education Department, Ken coordinated the implementation of the New York college- and career-ready learning standards, as well as the aligned curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development resources for educators, families, and the public. He has also been in charge of education technology and data collection and management. Ken oversaw the development of EngageNY.org curriculum website, which has received more than 100-million page views from more than 8-million visitors throughout the world.  

He holds a Ph.D. in school and clinical psychology from Hofstra University.