Editor’s Note: Three candidates remain for the job of Kentucky Commissioner of Education, and they were each asked the same three questions about themselves and their plans for the department.
A native Kentuckian, Dr. Jason Glass grew up in Brandenburg in a family deeply involved in Kentucky public education.
Now he’s one of three finalists to become Kentucky’s next commissioner of education, along with Felicia Cumings Smith and Julian Vasquez Heilig. The Kentucky Board of Education expects to make a decision by the end of July.
Glass went to the University of Kentucky where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history, a master’s in political science and a master’s in education. While a graduate student there, he already was serving as an instructor at UK and at Georgetown College. He also taught high school social studies for Hazard Independent Schools.
Glass received his doctorate in education leadership from Seton Hall University. He also holds a certificate in advanced education leadership from Harvard.
After moving to Colorado, he held several positions with that state’s department of education, then worked as vice president of quality ratings for Qualistar Early Learning. He served as senior director of human capital strategy for Ohio-based Battelle for Kids before moving on to become Iowa’s director of education (chief state school officer) for 2 ½ years.
Returning to Colorado in 2013, Glass became superintendent of Eagle County Public Schools, then of Jeffco Public Schools where he oversees 85,000 students in the metro Denver area. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated him to the National Board for Education Sciences.
Why do you want to be Kentucky’s next commissioner of education?
“I grew up in the state, so it’s my home and the place that gave me so much, growing up as a child in Kentucky – also, attending the university and getting my professional start in the state,” Glass said.
That combination made him feel compelled to return and serve Kentucky, he said. Having already been Iowa’s director of education and a superintendent of two districts in Colorado, Glass believes that experience makes him a good fit for the position in Kentucky.
What would be your first major priority as commissioner?
It’s threefold, Glass said:
- Safely reopening and operating Kentucky schools during the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Engaging in anti-racism and equity work, which is needed nationwide, not just in Kentucky; and
- Managing the budgetary fallout of the economic downturn prompted by COVID-19.
“My work initially will be focused on supporting schools in Kentucky through those challenges,” Glass said. Long-range, he would listen to Kentuckians’ aspirations for their children statewide. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, it’ll be time to “reimagine what education can be in the state,” he said.
Tell us something about yourself that you think is personally interesting, or which would have some impact on your job as commissioner.
Glass said he is a third-generation Kentucky educator, demonstrating a personal family commitment to the field.
“My grandmother was a Kentucky teacher, my parents were both Kentucky educators,” Glass said. His sister is a teacher in Metcalfe County and his brother works for Kentucky Educational Television – “and I even married a teacher,” he said. They have two children who would be attending Kentucky schools, Glass said.
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