Superintendent’s Spotlight: Kelly Middleton, Newport Independent

Kelly Middleton
Kelly Middleton

The Newport Independent school district is very rich in tradition; however, it is new initiatives that keep the district moving forward. In the past three years, the district’s leaders and staff have successfully implemented many new programs to promote student achievement.

The district introduced the Home Visit program two years ago. As a result, the personal connection made with students and families cannot be overstated. As one teacher wrote, “the value of home visits is so much more than making connections. The visits ignite compassion, humility, and an understanding of ourselves, our students and their families.” This year’s Home Visit Day was Aug. 10 and staff participation was better than ever.

Newport Independent has successfully rolled out a 1:1 iPad initiative over the past two years. All students in grades 7-12 have their own iPad to use every day in the classroom and every elementary classroom has five iPads to use with students.

This year, the district partnered with the City of Newport to introduce a new reading program for pre-K through 3rd grade children called Footsteps2Brilliance. This mobile technology program puts more than 1,000 books, songs and learning activities in the hands of every parent who lives within the district’s zip code – free of charge.

The results of the recent TELL Kentucky Survey show distinct and positive outcomes beginning in 2011 through this year. Items such as a clean and well-maintained environment, community support for the schools, communication between the school and community, expectations for student conduct, students following rules of conduct, faculty working in a safe environment, involvement and trust of teachers in leadership, decision making and solving problems, support from school leadership, improvement in professional development experiences, and the district being a good place to work and learn reflected double digit gains, ranging from 22 to 50 percent..

As Newport Independent continues to move forward, the district’s vision is to help every child be proficient and prepared for life, work and citizenship in the 21st century.


  1. Nice article. I remember Mr. Middleton from when he was Assistant Superintendent for Mason County; he visited the Lawrence County school district and our middle school’s Hard Work Cafe’. Each teacher in the Lawrence County district received a copy of his book, Who Cares? Improving Public Schools Through Relationships and Customer Service. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading another one of his books, Simply the Best: 29 Things Students Say the Best Teachers Do Around Relationships. It is both refreshing and inspirational to read books from both a teacher and administrative point of view. There are so many issues facing our school districts: poverty, apathy for education, budget cuts, the under staffing of schools, cuts in the arts, spending that doesn’t directly impact student learning on a daily basis, extreme focus on taking and mastering the test – (ultimately, a well rounded education gets lost in the shuffle), students that require more one on one attention – that will not happen in a class of 31+, teachers leaving the profession, high rate of teacher turnover and burnout, the list could go on and on! And yet, so many teachers strive to meet these challenges each and every day. We need more teachers to shed some light on these issues. Thanks Mr. Middleton for proving it can done! I look forward to reading your book!