Kentucky native chosen to lead education department
Kentucky School Advocate
By Brenna R. Kelly
He may be coming from Colorado, but he’s also coming home.
Kentucky’s new education commissioner, Jason Glass, is scheduled to take the helm at the Kentucky Department of Education on Sept. 14.
Glass is a third-generation Kentucky educator who graduated from Meade County High School and started his education career as a teacher at Hazard Independent.
“I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve the Commonwealth and I am excited to embark on this effort to improve the future for all of Kentucky’s children,” Glass said after the Kentucky Board of Education approved his contract during a July 10 meeting. “Kentucky has given so much to me, a quality public education, an opportunity for a world-class university experience and a start to my professional career.”
Glass’ selection came after a five-month long, nationwide search during which the KBE reviewed 46 applications. The board eventually narrowed the field to Glass, University of Kentucky College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Helig and then-Jefferson County Assistant Superintendent Felicia Cumings Smith.
KBE Chairwoman Lu Young said the board was confident in Glass’ ability to lead KDE in part because his experience includes serving in rural, suburban and urban school districts and as a chief state school officer.
“Along with a strategic vision and a track record for moving a school transformation agenda at the state policy level, it will combine to make him a great fit for the Commonwealth,” she said. KBE unanimously approved Glass’ four-year contract with an annual salary of $260,000.
For the past three years, Glass, 48, had been superintendent and chief learner of Jeffco Public Schools, an approximately 85,000-student district in metro Denver. His contract was scheduled to run through 2025.
Prior to Jeffco, Glass served as the superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Colorado and as Iowa’s Director of Education, the state’s chief state school officer, from 2010 to 2013.
Glass also worked for Battelle for Kids in Ohio and held several positions at the Colorado Department of Education.
At the meeting, Glass said Kentucky must adapt its education system to meet the challenges of a fast-changing, globally inter-connected world. Glass said he’s looking forward to working to improve public education in his home state.
“I believe we will rise to meet the challenges before us and create an education system that the Commonwealth’s children deserve and I believe our best days are before us,” Glass said at the meeting.
Glass’ parents were teachers in Meade County, his grandmother was a teacher and his sister is a current teacher in Metcalfe County.
In an interview after his hiring, Glass told Spectrum News 1 that he and his family are looking forward to relocating to Kentucky.
“I’m excited about coming home to serve and I’ll have children that I’ll be bringing into Kentucky that are going to go to Kentucky public schools and so the concerns that parents and kids have in the state are the same concerns that we’re going to have at our home,” Glass said. “We all have an interest in developing an education system that supports, loves and cares for our kids and then prepares them for their futures.”
Jason Glass, education commissioner
High school: Meade County High School
College: Bachelor’s in political science and history from the University of Kentucky in 1994, master’s in teaching and master’s in political science also at UK. Doctorate in education leadership from Seton Hall University in New Jersey and holds a certificate in advanced education leadership from Harvard.
Taught World Civilizations and Geography at Hazard High School in the Hazard Independent Schools, also coached football and track. Taught undergraduate courses at UK and Georgetown College.
Education policy: Director of research and assessment, Colorado Department of Education; human resources director, Eagle County, Colorado; Battelle for Kids; Iowa director of public education; superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, Colorado.
Family: Wife, Sarah; children, Norah and Chase