Kentucky School Advocate
By Brenna R. Kelly
This school year, at least 22 of Kentucky’s 171 school districts will start the school year with new leaders at the helm. Some new superintendents had been in leadership at other Kentucky districts and some are moving up at their current district.
Morgan County Schools
Ralph Hamilton got his start at Morgan County Schools when he was just 3 years old. Now he’s the superintendent.
“I was born and raised in Morgan County,” Hamilton told the Kentucky Department of Education’s Kentucky Teacher. “I started my educational career in a little Head Start one-room school called Moon Head Start when I was 3 years old.”
The Morgan County board of education chose Hamilton as its new superintendent. Outgoing Superintendent C. Thomas Potter is working as a consultant for the next year through the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation.
Hamilton graduated from Morgan County High School in 2005, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in school administration and completed his doctorate in educational leadership from Morehead State University.
Before returning to Morgan County Schools, Hamilton taught in Elliott County Schools. At Morgan County, he has served as a teacher, athletic director, director of pupil personnel, Youth Service Family Resource Center, homeless coordinator, foster care liaison, school safety coordinator, healthy at work officer and interim principal.
He also collaborated with colleagues to create the Morgan County Virtual Learning Academy and served as its principal from July 2015 to June 2017.
“Morgan County is my home,” Hamilton said. “I’m very indebted to how it served me growing up. Being able to give back to the Morgan County community and serve our students is a dream come true.”
Casey County Schools
The Casey County school board has hired Barry Lee as the district’s superintendent. The decision comes after Marion Sowders retired.
“Lee is no stranger to us,” board member Terry Price said during the meeting where the decision was announced, according to the Casey County News. “He is a strong advocate for all students, and we look forward to working with him as our new superintendent.”
A Casey County native, Lee is a graduate of Casey County High School and Eastern Kentucky University. He received a master’s degree in teaching from Campbellsville University, and holds both principal and superintendent certifications. Lee serves as an adjunct professor at EKU and at CU, and was the director of special education at Casey County High School.
Lee has also served as a special education teacher at the middle school, principal of the high school and coached cross country, track and field, and football.
“Our students will always be first in the decisions that we make,” Lee said. “Everything we do comes down to a team effort. That includes our cooks, our managers, our instructional assistants, drivers, mechanics, monitors, secretaries, nurses, our maintenance crew, grounds crew. It takes the entire team to run a school district. I will be the best leader that I can be, but it takes all of us working together to ensure that we do what’s best for our students.”
Clark County Schools
Molly McComas began her new role as Clark County Schools superintendent on Aug. 2 after being selected by the Clark County school board.
McComas has served as the director of student services for Scott County Schools since 2017. She is also an adjunct professor of graduate studies for the University of the Cumberlands.
“I am honored that the board of education selected me to serve Clark County Public Schools as superintendent,” McComas said. “Together our district will continue to do great work, always put students first, elevate our staff and support our leaders. I look forward to learning from our community, meeting our school teams, and developing strong relationships.”
McComas has also served as director of student services and operations at Williamstown Independent Schools and as a head start director, library media specialist and mathematics teacher.
McComas has a doctorate in education leadership & policy studies from Eastern Kentucky University where she also completed her master’s degree in educational leadership and instructional supervision and superintendent certifications. McComas earned a director of pupil personnel certification from Xavier University and holds a master’s degree in library & information science from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Northern Kentucky University.
“Kids drive my passion for education and I want to make sure they have equitable opportunities,” McComas told the Winchester Sun. “It’s critically important. I want to do right by people, right by kids, right by communities.”
Floyd County Schools
The Floyd County school board didn’t have to look very far to find its next superintendent. The board selected assistant superintendent Anna Shepherd to fill the role left vacant when Danny Adkins became superintendent of Woodford County Schools
“I’m excited and honored to get to serve in this role for Floyd County Schools and look forward to working and partnering with the board members and staff, the students and parents and community members. We are committed to providing our children with an exceptional education and I want to ensure that our kids are prepared for success in an evolving and globally connected society.”
Shepherd has 29 years of experience in education serving as a primary teacher, high school curriculum coordinator, a highly skilled educator for the Kentucky Department of Education, a gap coach and curriculum lead in the district.
Shepherd received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pupil personnel, instructional leadership-supervisor of instruction and interdisciplinary early childhood education certifications from Morehead State University. She received her superintendent certification from the University of Kentucky.
Shepherd is the first female superintendent in Floyd County.
“That’s a huge glass ceiling that’s been shattered,” she told WYMT-TV. “Every kid should be able to dream big, but I certainly feel like being the first female superintendent that lots of little girls and lots of little Headstart children can dream to be superintendent in this county or wherever they choose.”
Carter County Schools
Carter County Schools has an interim superintendent following the resignation of Ronnie Dotson. Dotson first resigned in early June but later rescinded his resignation and resigned again in July. His resignation goes into effect Sept. 1 with his official retirement following on April 1, 2022.
On July 28, the board appointed Robert J. Bell, of Lexington, as interim superintendent by a unanimous vote, according to the Carter County Times. Bell served several interim assignments, including as principal of Woodford County High School and as principal of Eastern High School in Jefferson County.
He has also served as interim superintendent in Nicholas County.
KSBA Superintendent Search Consultant Don Martin is facilitating the search for a permanent superintendent. The board plans to have the district’s new leader around Nov. 1.
Though most superintendent searches occur in the spring, Martin said he expected the board to have plenty of candidates by the Sept. 1 deadline.
“Carter County’s got a good reputation – academic reputation – and I think that we’ll have a good number that will apply for this position,” he said.
New superintendents previously featured in the Advocate include:
Dennis Messer, Barbourville Ind.; Steven Evans, Bath County; Jeremy Roach, Caldwell County; Demetrus Liggins, Fayette County; Brian Robinson, Fort Thomas Ind.; PaTrice Chambers, Fulton County; Robby Asberry, Hancock County; Sonny Fentress, Henry County*; Amy Smith, Hopkins County; Brent Hoover, Knott County; Jeremy Ludford, Knox County; David Meinschein, Livingston County; Steve Miracle, Marshall County; Jason Booher, Mercer County; Jason Radford, Oldham County; Billy Parker, Scott County; and Danny Adkins, Woodford County.