By Sky Carroll
Mark Martin, the new superintendent of Meade County Schools, was presented with the 2020 Grissom Award for Innovation in Special Education at the Kentucky Board of Education’s (KBE) Aug. 6 meeting.
In his nomination, Martin was praised for his core belief that all students are regular education students first, regardless of any challenges or disabilities they might have. With that philosophy in mind, he has made the general education curriculum more accessible to students with disabilities while still addressing their individual needs.
“This is a truly team award,” Martin said. “We started with the belief in 2014 that all means all from our teachers. Regular educations teachers, special education teachers, administrators and staff have worked as a true professional learning community to identify barriers and build bridges, not walls, for students with disabilities. When you wake up in the morning and do the best things for students, good things happen.”
The Grissom Award honors Johnnie Grissom, who provided strong leadership in and commitment to special education in her role as KDE’s associate commissioner for the Office of Special Instructional Services.
Martin is going into his 13th year as an educator and was director of special education for Meade County before he began serving as superintendent there on July 1. As the director of special education, Martin implemented a plan that utilizes co-teaching and supplemental resources for students with disabilities, giving special education students the benefit of having two invested teachers.
“His initiative has led to reduced teacher turnover and renewed interest in co-teaching,” said Gloria Bertrand, Meade County’s director of student improvement, who nominated Martin for the award.
Through Martin’s plan and initiative, Meade County elementary schools have begun to see a decrease in Novice test scores – the lowest-scoring category for state K-PREP testing — for special education students over the past several years. The county’s middle and high schools are beginning to see similar results, and the next phase of the plan will shift the focus to middle and high schools, Bertrand said.
“The plan is systematic, intentional and targets the county’s most at-risk student population for college and career readiness,” Bertrand said.
Meade County has hosted many visitors from several districts in Kentucky to learn about Martin’s special education plan. Bertrand said Martin is known for having “a heart for all children.”
Martin began his career as an elementary special education teacher in Daviess County Public Schools in 2008, where he also coached the academic team.
Martin received his bachelor’s degree in special education from Western Kentucky University, along with his doctorate and all of his administrative certificates.
The KBE recognizes on an annual basis educators, organizations and stakeholders who have made a difference in education in Kentucky.
Read more about Martin in this Kentucky Teacher profile of new superintendents.