Terri Cox-Cruey is a firm believer that strong leaders lead by example, model best practices and remain open-minded to new learning opportunities.

“At staff meetings, I try to introduce new uses of technology and encourage everyone to work as a team,” said Cox-Cruey, Kentucky Teacher’s Leader of the Month. “I believe it takes a trusting team to accomplish our goals, and I try to work side-by-side with others when possible.”

Cox-Cruey is in her second year as superintendent for the Kenton County school district. Prior to that, she served as deputy and assistant superintendent in the district and was executive director and director of special education. She worked for 13 years in the Covington Independent school district as a teacher, director of special education and general director of alternative programs.

Teresa Wilkins, coordinator of public information for Kenton County Schools, said Cox-Cruey has helped moved the district into a national spotlight as an instructional practices model.

Under her guidance, “teachers have spent the last 11 months working on literacy and math initiatives supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Wilkins said. “Most impressive is that lead teachers have been asked to share their work and student products with educators at state and national conferences in Louisville, Denver and New Orleans. As a result of their successful efforts, the district received an additional $600,000 from the foundation to continue the work.”

In her first year as superintendent, Cox-Cruey coordinated a redesign of the district’s Area Technology Center. The redesign was focused on ensuring all the participating students would be college- and career-ready at high school graduation, she said.

“This year we launched six Kenton County Academies of Technology and Innovation (KCAIT),” Cox-Cruey said. “These academies were designed with business and postsecondary partners to ensure that the appropriate courses and resources were being used with students.”

Wilkins added that the senior year of the academies “will result in a postsecondary, personalized learning plan that may feature apprenticeships, job shadows, project-based learning and internships.”

Under Cox-Cruey’s leadership, the district developed a Professional Practices Rubric (PPR).

“The PPR is responsible for standardizing best instructional practices for every teacher and is currently being used as a data-driven, researched-based teaching model for the state of Kentucky,” Wilkins said.

Cox-Cruey was instrumental in forming a partnership between administrators and the teachers association to bring the PPR under the umbrella of the teacher evaluation system.

“This partnership was built on respect and cooperation to achieve the goal of defining quality instruction. Together we developed a common approach for providing high quality instruction for every student, in every classroom,” she said.

With the Unbridled Learning initiative and other educational changes underway in the state, Cox-Cruey said collaboration is critical for new learning opportunities to be successful.

“To keep up with the changing needs of our community and country we have to be more innovative, creative and learn at a fast rate,” Cox-Cruey said. “That requires us to work together.”