Superintendent Spotlight: Bo Matthews, Barren County

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Bo Matthews
Bo Matthews

Academically, the Barren County school district has seen growth, becoming a Proficient district while serving more than 5,000 students in five Distinguished schools. From preschool to postsecondary, Barren County refuses to stay in its comfort zone and continues to push forward in every aspect of academic performance, college- and career-readiness and community vision.

When the district develops academic initiatives, the plan for growth must begin with the end in mind. Research shows that school readiness can be a great predictor of student success, and Barren County saw a five percent increase in school readiness on the Brigance Kindergarten Screener. Attributed to outstanding staff development and partnerships with 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the academic success doesn’t stop at kindergarten. Use of a variety of strategies such as The Leader In Me and Hattie’s Visible Teaching and Learning Principles create a culture of growth that translates from elementary students to graduates.

Barren County elementary schools begin building connections to college- and career-readiness by visiting college campuses, learning about local industry and creating a focus on academic gains in reading, math and science. With rigorous, intermediate magnet programs, students can earn high school credit and build a foundation for growth in fine arts, leadership, academics and community.

All students can participate in Advanced Placement, dual credit and career pathway coursework, and the Early College Magnet Program extends to middle and high school where students are immersed in a collegiate atmosphere. The class of 2015 earned college credit value estimated at more than $780,000 with more than one-third earning more than nine hours of college credit. Nearly 89 percent of 2015 Barren County High School graduates earned KOSSA/Industry Certification, articulated college credit and/or more than nine hours of college credit.

With more than 20 career majors and industry certifications offered to students, the growth continues to meet a vision shared by community stakeholders as the district plans to build a new center for education and industry to merge. New lab facilities for Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science and Engineering, culinary arts and computer sciences will modernize award-winning programs. Barren County will not become comfortable and plans to grow young leaders who are prepared to embrace the challenges in tomorrow’s world.

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