Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass announced that former school superintendents Scott Hawkins and Rachel Yarbrough started as special assistants to the commissioner on Oct. 4. The two will serve as a bridge of communication between the Kentucky Department of Education and school district leaders.
The part-time assistant roles were designed to better mesh the work of districts with KDE, with the two providing a field-based perspective on current trends, concerns and needs across the state. Hawkins and Yarbrough bring a combined 62 years of public education experience to their roles.
“I am excited to have Scott and Rachel be a part of our team at KDE,” said Glass. “Having former superintendents helping us engage and involve our stakeholders directly will be beneficial in making sure KDE is responsive to district needs.”
Hawkins and Yarbrough previously knew each other from their time as superintendents, and said they were looking forward to working with each other. Hawkins said that having former superintendents in the field will help address “specific nuances” among districts.
Hawkins previously served as the Woodford County superintendent for 13 years and retired in June 2021 after a 33-year career in education.
He said he was excited to step into the new role because it gives him the opportunity to help “move things forward with public education.”
“After speaking to Dr. Glass about the role, it seemed like a great opportunity to continue to work with superintendents,” he said. “I’ve known so many of them over the course of my career. To be able to be that liaison between the department and school districts seemed like a great opportunity to stay connected.”
Knowing the hard work superintendents put into their roles, Hawkins said he is looking forward to using the role to serve as a support system for district leaders.
Originally from Meade County, Hawkins’ career began at the same school where he did his student teaching – Apollo High School in Daviess County. He was a math teacher and coach there for several years before becoming assistant principal and then principal. He served as the director of personnel in Daviess County for seven years, and briefly served for one year as the director of high schools in Fayette County before becoming Woodford County superintendent.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Brescia University and a master’s degree and superintendent certification from Western Kentucky University. He and his wife have one daughter, who is a senior in high school.
Yarbrough served as superintendent of Crittenden County Schools for six years and as Webster County superintendent for four years. She retired in June 2018 with 29 years of service in public education.
Yarbrough said she is ready to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other superintendents” and “roll up [their] sleeves” to create the best opportunities for Kentucky’s children.
“I believe so strongly in high-quality educational opportunities for each child in the Commonwealth,” she said. “I loved my service to the community and to the education profession as a superintendent. I feel excitement about the opportunity to support current superintendents and district leaders in my region.”
A graduate of Webster County High School, Yarbrough previously served as a middle school teacher, counselor and principal in the Webster County school system for 19 years. She then went on to serve as Webster County assistant superintendent for nine years before accepting the superintendent role in Crittenden County in 2008. She returned to Webster County as superintendent in 2014, and stayed in that role until her retirement.
During her time as Webster County superintendent, Yarbrough also served as an adjunct professor at Murray State University for the school’s educational leadership certification. Upon her retirement, she accepted the position of dean of education at her alma mater, Oakland City University (OCU) in Indiana, and served in that role until August 2021.
Currently, she serves as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Louisville for its educational leadership program, and does contract work for two higher education institutions.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from OCU, a master’s degree and Rank 1 in administration from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate from OCU. She currently lives in Madisonville on her family farm.