KBE SPOTLIGHT | Lu Young brings a voice for students in generational poverty

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Kentucky Board of Education Vice Chair Lu Young sits on a defense committee at Barret Traditional Middle (Jefferson County).
Kentucky Board of Education Vice Chair Lu Young, second from right, sits on a defense committee at Barret Traditional Middle (Jefferson County). Young began her teaching career as a classroom teacher in the Jessamine County schools before advancing to the positions of director of curriculum, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
Photo by Matt Rogers, Feb. 28, 2020
  • After graduating from Jessamine County High School, Lu Young would go on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Spanish from Eastern Kentucky University.
  • Young began her teaching career as a classroom teacher in the Jessamine County schools before advancing to the positions of director of curriculum, assistant superintendent and superintendent.

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

Lu Young, vice chair of the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE), knows what it’s like to break the mold.

“For me, quite literally, education was the route out of generational poverty,” she said about being a first-generation college graduate. “When I think about education issues, I know that there are a lot of kids from poverty like me to whom we owe the very best possible education.”

After graduating from Jessamine County High School, Young would go on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Spanish from Eastern Kentucky University, Rank I and superintendent certifications from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Kentucky University.

She began her teaching career as a classroom teacher in Jessamine County schools before advancing to the positions of director of curriculum, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She would go on to become superintendent from 2004 to 2013 and was named the Superintendent of the Year by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators in 2012.

Young concluded her public education career as chief academic officer for the Fayette County schools in 2014.

With more than 31 years of experience in K-12 schools – 20 years in a leadership position — Young says she cherishes the opportunity to serve on the state board of education.

“Those experiences have prepared me to grapple with the decisions that we’ll face,” Young said. “I also think it helps me discern what leaders and educators across Kentucky will be thinking about as we look at these decisions.”

As for goals with the KBE, Young looks at first finding the right person during the ongoing search for the next commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education.

“I’m very honored and determined that we will conduct an impeccable search and find the very best person to be the next commissioner for Kentucky’s public schools,” she said.

By the time that Young’s term ends, she hopes that, with the help of the KBE, the negative narrative about Kentucky public education is wiped away.

“I hope that we can instill confidence on the part of the public in the work of our schools, especially our teachers and administrators,” she said. “I hope that we keep a strong focus on the needs of all kids, including kids from more marginalized populations.

“We need to really collaborate with families to better serve kids no matter what their zip code happens to be.”

In addition to trying to change the perspective of public education in the Commonwealth, Young also wants to lead the state into the next 30 years post-Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA).

In the 1990 legislative session, the Kentucky General Assembly passed KERA, which essentially changed the face of education in Kentucky.

Young, while looking back at that time, realizes that right now Kentucky has an opportunity to capitalize on the next 30 years.

“Think about how we can leverage all of the technology, all of what we know about teaching and learning, student engagement and educational equity,” she said. “All of those important factors begin to align for us in Kentucky with a new commissioner, a new board and this 30-year milestone.”

Young’s term will expire April 14, 2024.

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