John Slone was recently chosen to lead the Williamstown Independent School District but he is no stranger to Kentucky’s classrooms.
“I worked my first year in Ohio, and I’m currently on my 26th year in Kentucky – 27 years in total,” he said.
An eastern Kentuckian at heart, returning home meant a lot to Slone, who is a graduate of Prestonsburg High School (Floyd County).
“I missed Kentucky, so I came back and found Walton-Verona in northern Kentucky,” he said. “I taught agriculture for them for about eight years.”
As he used career and technical education (CTE) to foster leadership skills in his students at Walton-Verona Independent school district in Boone County, he began pursuing opportunities as an education leader.
“I have had good leaders throughout my life – my agriculture teacher, principals throughout the years – so I have wanted to model after them,” he said.
During his time at Walton-Verona, Slone participated in a program for aspiring leaders in neighboring Kenton County. He started looking for positions in leadership, finding a position and spending eight years as an assistant principal.
After his mother passed away, he decided to move closer to home, finding work as principal at Bath County Middle School. While an employee in Bath County, he felt led to work at the district level.
“In a small district, when a central office opportunity comes open, if that’s something you’re aspiring for, you look at that,” he said. “A director of technology position came open, and I applied for that, got it and loved it.”
During his time as director of federal programs and technology, Slone oversaw the implementation of a one-to-one program for students in the district.
After leading technology efforts in Bath County for years, he became principal and assistant superintendent in Robertson County. Slone said his combined experiences will influence his leadership as superintendent.
As he begins this role, Slone said he is excited to lead the district and work with the staff there.
He said the growth of the region surrounding Williamstown positions the smaller district to provide intimate educational experiences and opportunities that students might not find in larger districts.
“It’s an opportunity for us to take advantage of our academic programs and really tailor it to the kids to be able to pull students in, families in that are looking for that small school feel,” he said. “Williamstown is really centrally located, 30-minutes from Lexington and 30-minutes from the river.”
Slone said he will prioritize expanding course and pathway offerings, guided by his vision of preparing students for high-skill, high-wage jobs.
“Our kids are not offered the opportunity to take vocational classes right now,” he explained. “We have a few there at the school: agriculture, business, family and consumer sciences – but we do not have any that you would find at an area technology center. I would like to start some of that conversation with surrounding superintendents.”
According to Slone, the community at Williamstown Independent contributes to the school’s culture of success. The community supports providing access and opportunities.
“The community feel – they want opportunities for the community. They really, really support the school,” he said. “This is a perfect opportunity and perfect timing for us to take the school to another level – to really focus in on academic excellence.”
Though not in education, Slone’s wife, Cheryl, also helps people in her career. She is a social worker. His stepson, Dakota, attends the University of Alabama in Huntsville where he is majoring in astrophysics.
Slone will begin his post as superintendent of Williamstown Independent Schools on Dec. 1.