Editor’s Note: This is the second of a series of stories Kentucky Teacher is running about new superintendents for the 2020-2021 school year.
For Mark Thomas, the new superintendent of Todd County Schools, education is a family focus. One of his daughters is a Bullitt County high school English teacher. Another is headed for the University of Louisville (UofL). And his stepdaughter is about to start her junior year at Western Kentucky University (WKU).
“For me, family is my world and it’s my foundation,” Thomas said. “It’s what continues to move me forward.”
He’s a graduate of Fleming County High School – coincidentally, the fifth current Kentucky superintendent to share that alma mater, he said.
“I have been in the Kentucky public school system all my life,” Thomas said.
Thomas went to Morehead State University, where in 1995 he received a bachelor’s degree in middle school teaching, with a focus in math and science.
He soon began teaching math, science and reading in Shelby County, where he remained for four years. During that time, he worked on his master’s degree at the University of Louisville. He got his Rank 1 certification as a principal from UofL in 1998, and his Rank 1 in school administration in 1999.
Moving on to the University of Kentucky, Thomas received his superintendent’s certification in 2003 and supervisor of instruction in 2005.
He served as assistant principal at Franklin County’s Hearn Elementary School from 2000 to 2001, then was principal of Elkhorn Elementary from 2001-2004.
Thomas worked as principal of New Haven School in Nelson County for four years, then spent four years in Nelson County Schools’ central office, ending in 2012. During that time, he was promoted to assistant superintendent.
In the following year, Thomas served as chief academic officer in Clark County. From 2013 to 2016, he was principal of Spencer County Elementary, then became director of operations for Spencer County Schools. That lasted until June 2020, when he was hired as Todd County superintendent. He started work on July 1.
“I’ve been very blessed over my career, where I’ve been able to work in various different districts,” Thomas said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work under different superintendents, obviously. One of the things that always drew me was the positive impact that a superintendent had over a school district.”
The prospect of making a difference in a child’s life – even if it’s just one – was a major factor in getting Thomas into the field of education, he said. Superintendents, by the nature of their jobs, can influence many children.
Todd County schools have about 1,800 students in two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and the alternative school Horizons Academy, Thomas said.
“Everybody, all the staff, are just excellent,” with educators focused on setting students up to succeed, Thomas said.
The COVID-19 crisis has “kind of reshaped our world here,” he said. The top priority is making sure schools reopen safely, but when circumstances return to normal, he said he’ll focus on providing multiple opportunities for each student to succeed.