New Casey County Superintendent Barry Lee focuses on making sure students understand academics and life

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Picture of a man wearing a suit, standing in front of a cabinet.
Barry Lee started his 20th year in education as the new Casey County Superintendent. Lee, who previously served as director of special education and preschool for the district, said he wants to focus on student and staff relationships.
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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 2021-2022 school year.

Barry Lee is starting his 20th year in education as the new Casey County superintendent.

A native of Casey County, Lee graduated from Casey County High School in 1996. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in public relations from Eastern Kentucky University as a first-generation college student.

After college, Lee felt called to be an educator so he could give back to his community.   

“If it were not for teachers, I would not have graduated high school, much less gone to college,” he said. “I can name every teacher from 1st grade to high school because they all played an important role.” 

His most recent role has been director of special education for nine years in Casey County, including a brief stint in Pulaski County before returning to Casey County. Lee then taught in a classroom for five years before stepping into the position of principal at Casey County High School, where he served for another five years. He took on more administrative duties during that time, serving as director of preschool and social studies curriculum.

Lee’s job has never been just a teacher or just an administrator. He likes to be involved in all aspects of student life, ranging from coaching track and field to announcing homecoming games.

His educational philosophy is making sure students understand academics and understand life. From interviews to working with different types of people, Lee said, “We want students to have a balance of life and understanding of things that will be thrown at them.”

His main priority for the upcoming school year is “meeting students where they are at and getting them to where they need to be.”

“If it were not for the kids, we would not be here. Our focus is student learning and trying to overcome any obstacle put in front of us,” he said.

While Lee wants to continue innovation in the district, he said nothing will replace relationships between students and staff.

“We have to evolve with the times. We learned that through COVID. We want to make sure we are adapting,” he said. “The old way is not always the wrong way and the new way is not always the right way. We can bring any program to the school, but innovation isn’t always technology.”

Lee started his new duties Aug. 2. He succeeds Superintendent Marion Sowders, who retired after serving the district for eight years.

The Casey County School District includes three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school and is served by an area technology center. 

Along with his duties as school superintendent, Lee also is active in professional organizations. He currently serves as the president-elect of the Kentucky Council of Administrators for Special Education, is the past president of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators and past chair of the State Advisory Council for Exceptional Children.

Married to a fellow educator, Lee and his wife Kristy Lee have two children, a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. The family enjoys camping, traveling with sports teams and spending time at the lake.

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