Two women smile at a student watching a TV screen.

Contessa Orr (right) began as Muhlenberg County superintendent on July 1. Her goal is to create a learning environment for students with different learning abilities and needs. Photo courtesy of Contessa Orr.

After 22 years of working in education, Contessa Orr has started the next chapter in her career on July 1 as superintendent of Muhlenberg County Schools. Former superintendent Robby Davis retired after five years in the role.

Orr began her career as a special education teacher in Todd County School District, and soon afterward, she served as assistant principal and school counselor at Olmstead Elementary School (Logan County). Later, she became principal of North Todd Elementary School (Todd County) and director of federal programs for Todd County School District.   

The last six years of Orr’s teaching career were spent serving as the chief academic officer in Logan County. Her mission is to provide learning in the way that each individual student needs.

“I want to look at the ways to meet a variety of students’ needs, whether that be they want to go to college, or they want to go to trade school,” she said. “What are those capabilities that our students need to be successful in their community?”

Orr focuses her time and energy on elevating student choice and student satisfaction.

When considering accepting the Muhlenberg County superintendent position, Orr evaluated whether the district had the same goal of providing education in untraditional ways.

“[Muhlenberg County schools does] what’s best for their students … so that fits right in line with what I want to do,” she said, “we are a perfect match.”

Orr believes that developing soft skills, like confidence, kindness and motivation, is as just as important as students doing well on tests and reports. She said she is an advocate for change in the public school system and appreciates kids for who they are, not just for how many questions they answer correctly on a quiz.

“We need to keep [students] engaged, motivated and determined to find success in that next step for them,” Orr said.

Orr said her greatest job is raising her two children, Aaron and Abigail. Orr said both of her children have very different styles of learning

“My children motivate me to advocate for student … personalization,” she said, “the fact that they are two different types of learners helps to guide my work.”

As she steps into her new role as superintendent, Orr said she is looking forward to becoming a part of the Muhlenberg County community and connecting with parents, families and community members, and seeking out their thoughts and perspectives on what is best for Muhlenberg County students.