A deputy state commissioner and former school superintendent will serve as Tennessee’s interim education chief after Candice McQueen exits at the beginning of the new year.

Lyle Ailshie will lead the education department beginning Jan. 2 and will continue until governor-elect Bill Lee names his own commissioner of education over K-12 schools.

The appointment by Gov. Bill Haslam was announced Wednesday in a letter from McQueen to department employees. McQueen is leaving after four years to become CEO of the nonprofit National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

It’s uncertain how long Ailshie will be at the helm, or whether he could continue on. While the governor-elect hopes to have his cabinet in place by inauguration day on Jan. 19, a spokeswoman for his transition team said he will extend the search for education commissioner if necessary.

Ailshie has been deputy commissioner over college, career, and technical education since August of 2017 and has overseen the department’s work over teacher preparation, licensure, and effectiveness.

A 35-year educator and Tennessee’s 2005 Superintendent of the Year, he has led districts in Kingsport and Greeneville and is a past president of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. Ailshie also served as chairman of a key state committee that helped to revise Common Core standards for math and English language arts to make them more Tennessee-centric.

McQueen also announced that Elizabeth Alves will be the state’s interim deputy commissioner to oversee academic initiatives. Alves will step in as chief academic officer Vicki Kirk becomes the full-time superintendent of the Tennessee School for the Deaf, where she has been interim leader since March.

Alves has been assistant commissioner for early learning and literacy since November of 2016 and has led the state’s teaching and learning team in recent months. Before working for the state, she was assistant superintendent and chief academic officer in Knox County Schools.