Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass announced July 31 that he will step down from his position on Sept. 29 in order to become associate vice president of teaching and learning at Western Michigan University.
Glass was appointed commissioner in 2020 by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE). His four-year contract was set to expire in September 2024.
“These past three years have been a remarkable journey and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to return to my home state and serve as commissioner,” Glass said. “I wish to thank the members of the Kentucky Board of Education for their wisdom and leadership, the staff at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) for their exemplary service and those working in education roles across the state for their continuing efforts to serve and support all of Kentucky’s children. I have a heart full of gratitude.”
As the leader of KDE, the commissioner oversees the Commonwealth’s K-12 school system and its 635,000 students, as well as acts as superintendent of the Kentucky School for the Blind, the Kentucky School for the Deaf and 53 area technology centers.
In a letter to KBE chair Lu S. Young, Glass said he is “committed to working diligently to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities and to provide any necessary support to whomever is selected as an interim or new commissioner.”
“I am confident that the exceptional team we have built together will continue to lead the charge toward a brighter future for Kentucky’s educational landscape,” Glass said.
Young said Glass will leave a positive and lasting impact on public education in Kentucky.
“The Kentucky Board of Education selected Dr. Glass to be our commissioner at a very turbulent time in the world,” Young said. “He led deftly through the challenges of the pandemic and two major natural disasters while, at the same time, galvanizing support across schools and communities around a bold new vision for learning and teaching in the Commonwealth.”
“Thanks to his forward-thinking leadership, we have a statewide Portrait of a Learner that articulates a set of high expectations for every learner regarding the knowledge, skills and mindsets they will need to be successful in today’s economy,” she said. “These accomplishments represent Herculean efforts, strategic leadership, an actionable commitment to equity and remarkable knowledge about learning on the part of Commissioner Glass. Our board team is grateful for the time we’ve had with him and we wish Jason all the best as he takes on new challenges ahead.”
Young said the KBE will hold a special-called meeting in mid-August to determine next steps and a timeline for moving forward with an interim commissioner once Glass leaves. She noted that no action on a commissioner search will be taken at the KBE meeting Aug. 2-3 at the Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville.
Sharon Porter Robinson, vice-chair of the KBE, applauded Glass for his commitment to student success and his innovative approach to education.
“Under his visionary leadership, United We Learn has gained momentum in schools, districts and communities across the Commonwealth as we collectively reimagine teaching and learning,” she said. “Kentucky has made significant strides in advancing educational opportunities for all students, enhancing teacher development programs and fostering a culture of collaboration with various stakeholders.”
“We are sad to lose Dr. Glass as commissioner, but understand and respect his decision to make an impact in another role,” Robinson said. “We thank him for his service and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
Glass arrived as commissioner six months into the global COVID-19 pandemic and made swift and strategic responses to ensure that learning continued and that the health and well-being of students and educators remained a top priority. His departure comes as Kentucky’s schools continue to recover after the pandemic and natural disasters.
The tornadoes that struck western Kentucky in December 2021 and the severe flooding in eastern Kentucky in July 2022 resulted in devastating losses, affecting many communities, schools and families. Glass visited the many districts impacted in both regions and held weekly huddles with superintendents in an effort for KDE to offer additional support to school staff, students and families.
Glass also has been an avid supporter of student voice. Under his leadership, the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council moved from quarterly meetings to monthly meetings. During the 2022-2023 school year, the council worked on a school safety project. In January, they presented a white paper on potential actions to increase school safety to stakeholders, including Rep. James Tipton, chairman of the House Education Committee.
A native of Brandenburg and a third-generation Kentucky educator, Glass previously served as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools in Colorado for three years and was superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Colorado from 2013 to 2017. He was also an administrator at the Colorado Department of Education and was Iowa’s chief state school officer from 2010 to 2013. He began his career as a social studies teacher at Hazard Independent Schools.
In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Glass to the National Board for Education Sciences. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2019 Frank D’Angelis Inspiration Award, Christian Science Monitor’s 8 School Chiefs to Watch, 2018’s #1 State Education Chief to Watch, the 2021 Kentucky Teachers In the Know Decision Maker Award and the Amici Linguarum Award in support for language education by the Kentucky World Language Association.
In June, Glass was named a state champion for Problem & Project Based Learning (PBL) at the PBL World Conference in California, the premier event for PBL.
Under his leadership, Kentucky joined the Deeper Learning Dozen, a community of practice dedicated to transforming school districts to support equitable access to deeper learning experiences and outcomes for all students. Kentucky is the first state-level team to join the Deeper Learning Dozen.