KBE SPOTLIGHT | Claire Batt brings international experience to the KBE

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Kentucky Board of Education member Claire Batt speaks with Frankfort High School freshman Junior Carter about his school work.
Kentucky Board of Education member Claire Batt speaks with Frankfort High School freshman Junior Carter about his school work. After spending time around the globe, Claire Batt brought her expertise back to Kentucky, where she spent more than 30 years with Fayette County schools.
Photo by Jacob Perkins, Feb. 25, 2020
  • Prior to her career in education, Claire Batt learned the importance of early education and its connection to economic prosperity while working for Holland Chemical International in Bermuda.
  • Batt holds a bachelor’s degree in French and a doctorate in law from the University of Kentucky.

By Jacob Perkins
Jacob.perkins@education.ky.gov

Claire Batt has seen it all.

Her father was in the Navy which meant the family were frequent travelers. Born in Georgia, and spending time in California and Virginia, Batt’s family settled down in Kentucky after her father retired when she was in the 6th grade.

After graduating from Henry Clay High School (Fayette County), Batt caught the travel bug. She has lived in France, Canada and Bermuda, as well as spent time in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Prior to her career in education, Batt learned the importance of early education and its connection to economic prosperity while working for Holland Chemical International in Bermuda.

“The United States is in competition with people from around the world,” said Batt. “Looking at the caliber of educational background and the skills that they brought with them, it made me really understand that to be competitive, we have to educate kids.”

Batt has served on numerous committees for the Kentucky Department of Education on standards, assessment, writing and curriculum.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in French and a doctorate in law from the University of Kentucky. It was during her time in law school that she decided to pursue the field of education.

“I had the experience of doing some offender research,” said Batt. “Looking at some of the stories told by offenders during their sentencing made me really curious because some of them had above-average IQs and very low skill levels in terms of reading and writing.

“This made me interested to figure out what was going on. Why were we losing these smart, intelligent people to our prison system?”

During her career with Fayette County schools that spanned more than 30 years, Batt served in school- and district-based roles ranging from teacher to assistant principal.

She focused on boosting student achievement and challenging students through inquiry-based experiences that integrate 21st century skills, thinking processes and literacy across content areas.

“Literacy has been a primary focus of mine through my career,” said Batt. “I was lucky enough to study at Ohio State University in a literacy collaborative.”

Frankfort High School freshman Jordan Thompson shows KBE member Claire Batt his work.
Frankfort High School freshman Jordan Thompson shows KBE member Claire Batt his work. Throughout her career, Batt has focused on boosting student achievement and challenging students through inquiry-based experiences that integrate 21st century skills, thinking processes and literacy across content areas.
Photo by Jacob Perkins, Feb. 25, 2020

Her training at the Ohio State University Literacy Collaborative prepared her to lead the transformation of school-wide literacy programs, refine instructional practice, deepen knowledge of literacy processes, develop curriculum and coach teachers.

“As part of that, often we worked in the lowest-performing schools with the lowest-performing kids and transformed their identities as learners,” said Batt.

Shortly after being introduced at the Dec. 12 state board meeting in Frankfort, Batt spoke about how she has spent her entire career dedicated to making Lexington’s public school system better.

“For 32 years, I have focused on kids and education,” she said. “I have worked as a teacher, I’ve worked in central office, I’ve worked across the state on multiple committees. The past two years, I focused on being an advocate for education with our legislators.”

Batt’s term will expire April 14, 2022. When she is up for reappointment, Batt hopes that the KBE has moved the Kentucky education system forward.

“With the economic downturn in 2008, we lost a lot of the momentum that we had in education,” she said. “To attract economic development to the state, it starts with education.

“Improving the quality of education for our students is the primary focus that I have.”

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