Jim Masters didn’t always know he wanted to be an educator, but knew he wanted a career where he could make a difference.
“My first year of college, I didn’t do very well because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said. “At the end of the year, I sat down and asked myself – what did I have a passion for? I loved helping people. I loved making a difference. I decided the best way I could pursue that passion was to be an educator.”
Masters holds a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor’s degree in education from Kentucky State University. He earned his master’s in education from Eastern Kentucky University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Morehead University.
He started his career as a social studies teacher and basketball coach in both middle and high schools from 1997 to 2005. In 2005, he took his first administrative role at Georgetown Middle School (Scott County) as an assistant principal.
As assistant principal of academics, Masters helped Georgetown Middle achieve their highest test scores yet with a 21.5-point jump on overall scores. That experience allowed Masters to serve one-year as a highly skilled educator at the Kentucky Department of Education from 2007 to 2008.
In 2008, he stepped back into an administrative role as the principal of Henry County High School. He served in that role until 2012 when he became the director of k-12 curriculum and instruction for Franklin County, where he is from. He served in this capacity until accepting the Henry County superintendent position.
Henry County, located in northern Kentucky, has about 16,000 residents. Henry County Public Schools has about 2,000 students across three elementary schools, a middle school, high school, an early childhood center and iLead Academy.
Masters is excited to return to Henry County to start his 25th year in education because “some of the fondest memories” come from his time as principal at Henry County High School.
“It’s a special place. The people truly care about the school system – it is the pride of our community,” he said.
Masters began as superintendent on Sept. 15, 2021, succeeding Terry Price who retired after his four-year tenure.
Masters looks forward to making a difference in the lives of students, staff, families and the community.
“Superintendents come and go, just like any other job. I want to make sure I leave a legacy of making a positive impact,” he said. “This positive impact isn’t done alone, but through being a family. Everyone in Henry County is coming together, striving for a united cause, to improve not just student learning, but teaching and reaching the whole child.”
Masters believes that enabling success for Henry County will require a servant leadership style.
“My style of leadership is built on relationships and respect as compared to position and rights. Success only happens when everyone is able to come together,” he said.
Masters’ biggest challenge as superintendent for the 2021-2022 school year has been navigating the unfinished learning and emotional distress COVID has caused the community.
“[COVID] placed a great deal of barriers on learning. The achievement data has shown that across the board, not just with Kentucky, but across the country,” he said. “A 7th grader hasn’t had what we would call a normal school year since the 4th grade. When you look at it from that perspective, it is really shocking.”
As Masters navigates providing leadership and guidance during COVID, he is ready to look beyond the horizon and set his focus toward relationship building and improving student learning in Henry County.
“First and foremost, my job as superintendent or any type of leader like a teacher or principal is to start building relationships with students and staff and our families,” he said. “If you don’t have solid relationships, then you are never going to get what you want.
Masters and his wife, a library media specialist in Franklin County, have three children ages 18, 16 and 14. They enjoy being out in nature and spending time together.