Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass announced Oct. 14 that Thomas Woods-Tucker will serve as the Kentucky Department of Education’s first chief equity officer and will lead the Office of Teaching and Learning as the department’s next deputy commissioner.
Woods-Tucker, who most recently served as superintendent of Douglas County Schools in Colorado, will join the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) on Nov. 2.
Glass said he is “incredibly excited about the capacity for positive change Dr. Woods-Tucker brings to our work in Kentucky.”
“The Office of Teaching and Learning, in many ways, lies at the heart at KDE’s mission to serve the Commonwealth’s students,” said Glass. “These talented professionals oversee the Kentucky Academic Standards, offer engaging professional learning opportunities for our educators and promote practices designed to support the whole child.”
At the same time, Glass said “this is a pivotal time for education in the Commonwealth, with the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) unanimously adopting a resolution affirming its commitment to racial equity.”
“Now is the time to fulfill that promise,” he said. “Having Dr. Woods-Tucker lead our Office of Teaching and Learning and serve as our first chief equity officer really go hand-in-hand with the work we are trying to do at the department to improve the educational journey for each and every student in the Commonwealth.”
Before his work in Colorado, Woods-Tucker served in district leadership positions in Ohio, where he was named the 2016 American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators State Superintendent of the Year. In 2013, he earned the National Alliance of Black School Educators National Superintendent of the Year Award.
“I am incredibly eager to begin this journey in Kentucky,” said Woods-Tucker. “This a responsibility that comes with a great deal of humility. There’s no better opportunity than to work with equity at the state level and to ensure that every student, regardless of his or her ethnicity, regardless of his or her zip code, is ensured an equitable education.”
Within its resolution, the KBE called on KDE to continue and reinvigorate its work to foster a culture of anti-racism and further racial equality within Kentucky’s public schools. Woods-Tucker said he hopes to come in and work alongside KDE staff and the Commonwealth’s districts as they face the inequities within their schools.
“The tough challenge, and I’m looking forward to it, is to bring everyone to the table and help explain why it’s important that we all come together,” Tucker said.
Originally from Cotton Plant, Ark., Woods-Tucker earned his doctorate in education and a master’s in educational administration from The Ohio State University. He received a bachelor’s in English education from Philander Smith College (Little Rock, Ark.).
Woods-Tucker is the youngest of 11 children and was the first to be born in a hospital. His grandparents were sharecroppers and one generation removed from slavery. He credits his grandparents for instilling in him the importance of both hard work and education.
“We knew that hard work and education were our passport. It really has been a savior for our family, certainly a savior for me,” said Woods-Tucker. “Education, I truly believe, is not only the best shot for many children in America, but it is also the only shot to the American dream.”
Woods-Tucker’s salary will be $130,000 annually.
For more information about Woods-Tucker, read his profile on Kentucky Teacher.