As you may be aware, I have provided notice to the Kentucky Board of Education that I will be stepping down at the end of September to become the associate vice president of teaching and learning at Western Michigan University. This transition generates several different emotions for me, but I am choosing to focus on perhaps the strongest one – gratitude.
As a professional educator, getting to serve as a state education chief is the highest honor. I have had the opportunity to do that twice in my life, once in Iowa and now in Kentucky. Of course, Kentucky is very special to me as it is my home state – I grew up in Brandenburg and graduated from the Meade County school system – and a place that has given so much to me.
I am grateful for the chance to know and work with the members of our state board of education. To a person, they are exemplary educators and people. They were selected to serve on the board because of their tremendous background experiences and their unwavering commitment to public education in our Commonwealth. I will miss them and I will always treasure the friendships I have forged with them.
I am also grateful for the staff I have had the chance to work with at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). Even before coming back to Kentucky, I knew of the professional reputation and quality of the team at KDE. I have learned so much working with them. They really work to be of service and support those in our schools and communities, and it has been an honor to be associated with them.
I am grateful for the education professionals working in our districts and schools every day. From superintendents, to teachers, to principals and support staff – I continue to be so impressed and inspired by the commitment and care you take in working with Kentucky’s students.
And I am grateful to the people of Kentucky. I have had the chance to meet and work with so many wonderful students, parents, community members and education advocates from across the state. At risk of leaving someone important out, I will avoid trying to name them all – but it has been a blessing to meet these wonderful Kentuckians and get to know them.
Few people get to serve in these roles around the country. In total, I will have had the chance to serve as a state education chief for nearly six years. This is more time than most people get in this role, and I am so proud to have had this experience in Kentucky.
I wish our wonderful state and its students great success going forward, and I have loved every minute of this work!