Nawanna Privett is sworn in by Judge Phillip Shepherd as a member of the Kentucky Board of Education during their meeting in Frankfort, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot, June 6, 2012

Nawanna Privett is sworn in by Judge Phillip Shepherd as a member of the Kentucky Board of Education during their meeting in Frankfort, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot, June 6, 2012

Last week, Kentucky Teacher introduced newly-appointed Kentucky Board of Education member Leonel (Leo) Calderón.

This week, we turn out attention to the second board appointment made by Gov. Steve Beshear this summer, Nawanna Privett – a 42-year educator from Lexington who represents Supreme Court District 5 on the board.

Nawanna Barton Privett is facilitator for the Kentucky Education Action Team after retiring as a teacher, principal (including Southern Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon School) and central office director in the Fayette County school district. She served as an early Kentucky Department of Education distinguished educator, director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development and first state director of the Kentucky Leadership Academy and CEO Superintendents Network.

A native of Cumberland, Ky., Privett earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Rank I in administration from the University of Kentucky. Currently, she is co-chair of UK Women & Philanthropy, elder at Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church and member of the UK College of Education Board of Advocates, the Partnership for Successful Schools Board and Women Leading Kentucky Board of Directors. Privett and her husband, Dr. George Privett, have five children and two grandchildren.

Her term expires April 14, 2016.

What helped you decide to become involved in education?

My earliest memory is that I wanted to be a teacher. Education is the key to our future. I believe all children can learn if given the right instruction, time, pace and motivation. It has been and continues to be important to me to do what I can to facilitate that. Through the years, I have grown to understand and appreciate that effective teaching is both a science and an art.

What impact do you hope to bring to the board in the immediate future?

The implementation of Senate Bill 1 holds great promise for Kentucky’s children. As a member of the Kentucky Board of Education, I hope to help ensure that parents, teachers and administrators receive the knowledge and skills needed to guide students so that they can compete in a global economy.

What long-term goals do you have as a member of the board?

During my time on the board I would like to:

  • help develop policies that focus on statewide, districtwide and schoolwide efforts to improve learning and reduce unnecessary tasks that take away from learning
  • provide support, encouragement and respect for the teachers, administrators and staff who are working long, arduous hours to improve learning for our children  
  • ensure that communication is clear, accessible to all stakeholders and invites an open dialogue

What have you gained from your time as an educator that will help you as a board member?

I have been an educator for 42 years. During that time, I have learned that education is a collaborative effort. Kentucky’s amazing progress in improving student achievement is the result of a combination of consistent legislative action; strong support from the Kentucky Department of Education; the common emphasis on Senate Bill 1 by statewide organizations; parent and community support; and most important, teachers, administrators and staff who are dedicated to continuous improvement in their own knowledge and skills in order to improve student learning. Experience and research have shown it is imperative that we all work together as active partners if our children are to succeed in meeting world-class standards.

What are the greatest successes you have seen in Kentucky schools?

Our greatest successes include Kentucky’s focus on what’s best for students; the realization that public education is about improving learning for all children and our schools and districts building partnerships with parents.

Other than more money, what do Kentucky schools need most? What are the biggest obstacles the state faces in achieving its college- and career-readiness?

We must continue our drive to improve teaching and learning in Kentucky’s public schools. I believe the biggest obstacle is the lack of collaboration among P-20 educators. The excellent work that is now beginning to occur between P-12 and higher education will, if continued and strengthened, lead to better teacher and administrator preparation, clear expectations and achieving our goal of all Kentucky students graduating from high school college/career-ready.

What small change would have the greatest impact on Kentucky’s schools?

Kentucky has significantly improved student learning on a national scale, and we are well poised to continue to do so. Increased public respect, support and appreciation for the tremendous work of Kentucky educators would have great, positive impact in reducing burnout and enabling dedicated educators to find renewed energy for continuing their work.

What major change would you make to improve Kentucky Schools?

Establishing a comprehensive professional learning system that every teacher in every school and every administrator in every district could easily access would dramatically impact student learning. We are headed in the right direction with KDE’s Leadership Networks and Kentucky’s Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS). By leveraging technology and skilled educators, Kentucky is on track to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

What else do you want Kentucky’s past and current teachers to know about you?

I invite calls and e-mails from all educators – past and present; I want to know their thoughts, ideas and perspectives on how we can continue the phenomenal progress Kentucky has made in education over the past 22 years. I appreciate the opportunity to continue pursing my passion for excellence in education and success for all students by serving on the Kentucky Board of Education.