Dustin Howard was named superintendent of Clark County Public Schools (CCPS) on Sept. 23. He most recently served as CCPS assistant superintendent and chief academic officer.
Howard replaces Elmer Thomas, who had served as interim superintendent since July, following the departure of former Superintendent Molly McComas.
Originally from Raceland, Howard was involved in many student activities and sports in high school, and he was the first person in his family to graduate from college.
“I was the first person to go to college, let alone graduate,” said Howard. “Half of my family are farmers, and the other half are preachers, so public education was really kind of my way to build a different life for myself.”
After high school, he set off to Centre College, where he played football and majored in psychology. Howard said college helped him develop as a young man and broaden his horizons, but he wasn’t sure about becoming an educator until later in his college career.
“It took me going through college and realizing that what I do enjoy are people; working with people, helping people. Education found me,” he said.
In 2003, Howard began his career in Clark County as a school psychologist for George Rogers Clark High School and served as a special education facilitator from 2011 to 2012 before becoming principal of Phoenix Academy in 2012. He later served as principal of Robert D. Campbell Middle School from 2014 to 2022 before being named principal of Montgomery County High School. He took over as CCPS interim assistant superintendent earlier this year.
Howard said his motto is to be passionate about everything he does.
“If you’re passionate about what you do and you exude excitement and energy, the people around you will feed off of that,” he said. “It’s not about ignoring the negative but framing it in a way that we are in control of overcoming barriers.”
As simplistic as it may seem, Howard’s long-term vision is about doing what is best for the kids.
“Who doesn’t want to go to a job they enjoy? Positivity and excitement are infectious, and I think it sets a great tone for the hard work that needs to be done.”
His goal for this school year is to create engaging experiences and instruction in the classroom through deeper learning, and he wants to build off the momentum CCPS already has to provide students with the best opportunities possible.
Like many educators, Howard said overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges he has faced.
“Not having our kids in the building was probably the most difficult thing I had to deal with personally and professionally because they are the ones who give us energy, keep us focused on why we are there and what we are doing,” he said. “Coming out of the pandemic and seeing the trauma that we were trying to manage, and all of the learning gaps has been one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered.”
However, he said he is looking forward to spending time in schools and classrooms and watching staff pour their hearts out for the kids.
Along with a bachelor’s in psychology from Centre College, Howard earned a master’s in educational psychology and a specialist in education degree from the University of Kentucky. He also holds a master’s in educational leadership from Eastern Kentucky University and superintendent certification from Asbury University.
He has been married to his wife Rachael for 21 years, and they share two children, Jones, a sophomore, and Bailey, a freshman, both at George Rogers Clark High School. The family is involved in various sports and extracurricular activities and enjoy having family dinners when they can. In his free time, Howard loves reading and playing golf.