For new Rockcastle superintendent, the job means homecoming

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Carrie Ballinger, Rockcastle County's new superintendent, works at her desk in Mt. Vernon.
Carrie Ballinger, Rockcastle County’s new superintendent, works at her desk in Mt. Vernon. Ballinger, who previously served as Rockcastle’s director of student services, said she wants to push Rockcastle schools forward by continuing work on instructional improvements.
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Editor’s Note: This is the eighth of a series of stories Kentucky Teacher is running about new superintendents for the 2020-2021 school year.

By Jim Gaines
jim.gaines@education.ky.gov

New Rockcastle County Schools Superintendent Carrie Ballinger has more than one full-time job.

“We run a family farm, where my family breeds purebred Hereford cattle,” she said. “We also grow and produce cane, which we use to make sorghum molasses on our farm.

“My children show cattle, so they’re very involved in the cattle industry.”

As superintendent, Ballinger wants to push Rockcastle schools forward by continuing work on instructional improvements. That means offering the best possible opportunities for all students within the district, and providing opportunities equal to those available in surrounding districts, she said.

She officially was hired as superintendent July 1, and since she already was serving as Rockcastle’s director of student services, she was able to move into the new job immediately.

Ballinger said she wants to serve the place she loves.

“I wanted the position because it’s a community I have lived in and the community I call home,” she said.

Ballinger’s three sons, now in college, went to Rockcastle County schools; her daughter, a high school sophomore, still does.

The school district has about 2,600 students. There are three elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, an area technology center and Rockcastle Academy for Academic Achievement.

Ballinger received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in 1996, followed by her master’s in the same subject in 2000.

Before finishing her master’s, Ballinger began teaching 4th grade in Madison County schools. But then she had four children and stayed home with them for nine years. Ballinger returned to Madison County as a 1st-grade teacher at Kingston Elementary from August 2007 to August 2015, then became that school’s Response to Intervention coach for a year.

She earned her Rank 1 in literacy through National Board certification. Ballinger received her educational specialist degree, focused in educational leadership and administration, from Asbury University in 2016.

Finally, she went back to EKU for certification as a superintendent.

Ballinger served as elementary director of EKU’s Model Laboratory School from July 2016 to July 2018, then returned to Kingston Elementary as principal.

She came to Rockcastle County as director of student services in July 2019. Ballinger served on the Rockcastle County Board of Education from 2013 until her hiring as superintendent.

“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve my community,” she said.

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