Graphic shows a woman with words next to her saying Safe and Supportive School Branch Manager, Office of Continuous Improvement and Support, Deborah Sauber, "I like being in a position to support the mental health and safety of the students in KY schools. Feeling like I am making a difference in that way makes me LOVE coming to work every day."Deborah Sauber has always been interested in providing resources for people in need.  

As the Safe and Supportive Schools branch manager in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Continuous Improvement and Support, she focuses on several important issues, such as suicide and bullying prevention, human trafficking, mental health, social-emotional development, school discipline, trauma-informed practice, school safety and district emergency operations plans. 

She said these activities keep her busy, “but there is still time for me to go out to schools to provide training, or to support my staff as they do so.” 

“I like being in a position to support the mental health and safety of the students in Kentucky schools,” Sauber said. “Feeling like I am making a difference in that way makes me love coming to work every day.”

Her work in the Division of Student Success also includes being KDE’s point of contact for the Collaborating States Initiative at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL); leading a Community of Practice for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) at CASEL; and overseeing two federal grant projects. 

She said she and her team are developing a “State Theory of Action” on social and emotional learning.  

“Kentucky was selected to be one of four states to participate in this community of practice with CASEL to structure SEL for youth and adults across the state,” said Sauber. “I am very excited for this opportunity.” 

In addition to her work with social and emotional learning, she represents Kentucky as the state leader for Olweus Bullying Prevention, the Kentucky Interagency Council for Suicide Prevention, the Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force and the Association for Position Behavioral Supports. 

Sauber’s mental health work at KDE requires her to work closely with the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health.  

She joined KDE in 2019. 

She received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Morehead State University, a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Kentucky, and a Master of Safety, Security and Emergency Management degree from Eastern Kentucky University. 

Prior to joining KDE, Sauber was a youth services center coordinator and social worker for Fayette County Schools for 19 years, providing individual, group and family counseling in a day treatment center and managing a group home for adolescent girls. 

She retired from that position and became an area coordinator and office manager for the Kentucky Center for Instructional Discipline for a year and a half. 

When she is not directing, supporting or evaluating the work of her branch, Sauber enjoys practicing martial arts, playing in the pool with her two grandchildren and tending to her home in Lexington. 

Sauber said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time at KDE. 

“I work with wonderful people who are dedicated to the work,” she said.