Editor’s Note: This is the tenth of a series of stories Kentucky Teacher is running about new superintendents for the 2021-2022 school year.
Anna Shepherd was named superintendent for Floyd County schools on July 26, replacing Danny Adkins, who resigned and is now superintendent of Woodford County. Awarded a four-year contract, Shepherd previously served as chief early childhood officer and interim superintendent in the district.
Shepherd has been involved in education for 30 years, beginning in 1992 as a teacher at Prestonsburg Elementary and later at May Valley Elementary (both in Floyd County). She then served as curriculum coordinator at Allen Central High School (now consolidated with South Floyd High as Floyd Central High School).
Next, Shepherd spent three years serving districts around eastern Kentucky as a highly skilled educator with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) leadership program. She then served as district curriculum lead pre-k-12 for Floyd County schools, and as the academic leader for middle and high schools in Floyd County. She also was appointed by the governor as a member of his Early Childhood Advisory Council and served as district coordinator for Governor’s Scholars.
Hailing from Magoffin County, Shepherd loved school from an early age. She was the only child in her family who had the opportunity to attend Project Head Start, an eight-week summer program launched by the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1965. The program was created to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs.
Shepherd said she has always loved school and that the importance of obtaining an education was instilled in her from her mother, who did not have the opportunity to attend school beyond 4th grade due to the loss of her mother. Shepherd rode the bus to school even when she had the mumps.
After giving birth to her daughter, she attended college as a nontraditional student and became the first college graduate of her family. While in college Shepherd remembered how much she had always loved school and those feelings were intensified by the joy she felt while teaching her daughter. A career in education, she thought, would be the perfect fit.
Shepherd said her teaching philosophy is based on service to others.
“I am a servant leader. My entire career has been spent serving families, children and people in my community. I also believe my style of teaching is centered around service,” she said.
After COVID-19 forced students from across Kentucky into a virtual learning environment, Shepherd said, many students will be eager to get back to in-person learning this fall.
“Welcoming students and families back and figuring out where students are academically after the loss of in-person learning will be difficult. Getting students caught up will be a huge challenge, but we’re ready to hit the ground running and I’m excited about all of the plans that the administrative teams have put in place for safely getting back to school,” Shepherd said.
Although many schools are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shepherd is focused on making sure every student’s needs are met.
“My goal is to help this district tell their stories so that students understand that every person in our district is there to help them overcome challenges and be successful. We are focused on not only academic performance, but the social-emotional well-being of students and adults in our community. We are focused on the whole child,” she said.
Shepherd wants families to know that the district is willing to help them overcome any barriers they may be facing with their children.
“When I say one community, that includes families, students and everyone else involved. I’m looking forward to honoring all of the great work that has been done in our county over the years and for the chance to have a fresh start,” she said.
Shepherd is grateful to her staff and the community. She believes that everyone in Floyd County is essential. She is eager to get to continue to create and build connections with even more community partners.
She holds a bachelor’s in teaching, a master’s in instructional leadership, K-12 principalship, certificates in administrator of pupil personnel and interdisciplinary early childhood education and Rank I in instructional leadership-supervisor of instruction from Morehead State University. She earned her superintendent certification from the University of Kentucky.
When she’s not working, Shepherd said she likes to spend time on the family’s pontoon at the lake with her husband, Carlos Smith, and enjoys spending as much quality time as possible with her daughter and son-in-law. She is an avid reader and collector of antiques and decorative arts.