Picture of a man with a beard sitting in front of computers at a desk.

New Knox County Superintendent Jeremy Ledford at work during his first day on the job, July 1. He spent the day meeting with staff, reviewing vacancies, making budget decisions and performing various other duties.
Photo courtesy of Knox County Public Schools

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a series of stories Kentucky Teacher is running about new superintendents for the 2021-2022 school year.

  • Jeremy Ledford taught social studies, coached basketball and served as Knox County Middle School principal.
  • He would like to establish an intermediate school for grades 5 and 6.

By Jim Gaines

Whether through coaching or teaching, Jeremy Ledford says helping kids is always his goal.

Ledford coached basketball for 3rd- through 8th-graders for 13 years. He’s been a social studies teacher for 10 years.

Now he’s moved into a new role – superintendent of Knox County Public Schools. Although it’s a different job with different responsibilities, being superintendent will let him serve all the district’s children instead of just those on his team or in his class, Ledford said.

“I look forward to building on the positives we’ve already had in the past and really creating a new vision for our district and our schools, and creating more possibilities for our kids,” he said.

The Knox County school board hired Ledford from a field of 15 applicants. He started work July 1 on a four-year contract. He succeeds Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles, who retired.

The school district has about 340 teachers and 4,800 students spread among six elementary schools, one middle school and one high school, plus Knox Appalachian School, Lynn Camp School, Knox County Day Treatment and Knox County Learning Academy.

A native of Knox County, Ledford graduated from Corbin High School in 1996.

Ledford received his bachelor’s degree in teaching middle school language arts and social studies in 2002 and his master’s degree in instructional leadership in 2007, both from Union College. In 2020, he received his superintendent’s certification from the University of the Cumberlands.

Ledford’s first teaching job was at Girdler Elementary School in Knox County, where he taught social studies to 6th through 8th grades from 2003 to 2006, he said.

When Knox County Middle School opened in 2006, he moved there. Ledford taught 8th-grade social studies at Knox County Middle School for seven years before becoming the school’s principal in 2013. He continued as a social studies teacher there during his eight years as principal.

Sheila Terrell worked under Ledford for five years as his assistant principal at Knox County Middle School. She and the middle school staff are sorry to lose Ledford, but happy to see him move on to the greater role.

“He is very fair and consistent. I think he’ll do a phenomenal job as superintendent,” Terrell said.

She found Ledford to be very organized, smart, and good at dealing with students and staff.

“People enjoy working for him,” Terrell said.

While he was principal, Knox County Middle School saw a steady increase in state test scores.

“We were a School of Distinction and then, the last year we had test scores (the 2018-2019 school year), we were a top 10% performing middle school in the state,” he said.

Ledford likes seeing tasks through to completion and works toward improving the school district to the point that Knox County students can compete with children anywhere, Terrell said.

“He’s very progressive in trying to move schools forward,” she said.

While Ledford wants to continue many existing initiatives at Knox County Public Schools, he said he also would like to establish an intermediate school for grades 5 and 6.

“I’m just really excited to be a part of Knox County Public Schools and moving our district (into a position) to become a top performing district in the state,” he said.