When Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday looks up from his desk, before him hangs a custom-made quilt expertly designed, sewn and quilted by his sister-in-law, Libby Holliday, who lives in Belton, S.C. Based on the craftsmanship, it is clear she does this work professionally.
But this is no ordinary wall hanging. This quilt was created from t-shirts given to the commissioner by staff in many of the districts where he has traveled since taking the job in 2009. Blocks of district and school names, mottoes and logos make up the colorful patchwork. It even has a stitched script of Kentucky subtly worked into the quilting.
In a 2011 self-evaluation, Holliday pledged to visit every public school district in the state. This past December, he accomplished his goal. In total, the commissioner visited roughly 450 schools in 174 districts and put about 50,000 miles on his car.
“The quilt reflects the thousands of teachers, students, and parents I have talked with across Kentucky,” said Holliday. “In my visits, I found hard working and dedicated educators who share our vision of helping every child reach college and career readiness,” he said.
Even though he’s reached his goal, Holliday says he intends to keep getting out and about in the state to see what innovative and exciting things teachers, schools and districts are doing and hear how he and the Kentucky Department of Education can assist and support them in their work with students.
“As I make decisions, I have the quilt front and center so I think about the impact of decisions on the students and educators of Kentucky,” Holliday said. “And I am reminded of the profound effect a quality education can have on people’s lives.”
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