The chief of Jessamine County schools walked into Jessamine Career and Technology Center on Wednesday afternoon and was baffled when she was greeted by applause from dozens of district administrators, school officials, friends and family.
“I thought maybe I had missed something on my calendar — what are they doing?” superintendent Lu Young said. “I knew it wasn’t my birthday.”
Then she saw Wayne Young, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA), and figured it out — she was KASA’s 2012 superintendent of the year.
Lu Young gave credit for the award to those around her, including district-level staff, principals, the board of education and the teachers and staff at each school.
“It’s really important to me to say that it’s reflective of the work that’s going on across this district,” she said. “The leaders in this room together are the team that makes Jessamine County Schools what it is; I’m just lucky enough to get to be the superintendent of that group.”
Deputy superintendent Owens Saylor, who also sits on KASA’s board of directors, said Young deserved more credit than she would take.
“I know how Lu will accept it — that it’s on behalf of our entire district — and it reflects extremely well on the quality of our district. But you have to have a great leader to do that, and we certainly do,” Saylor said.
Jessamine County Board of Education chairman Eugene Peel is on the board of directors of the Kentucky School Boards Association and said educators all across the state know of Young’s work. He told those gathered that he knew before Young was hired in 2004 that she would do great work in not only the district but the state.
“From the first five minutes sitting down in the interview process with Ms. Young, I knew then that in Kentucky education, there was something special going to happen with this lady, not only for Jessamine County, which has been a recipient of it for these years, but the state,” Peel said.
Young was one of three finalists for the Fayette County superintendency over the summer. Last year’s superintendent of the year, Tom Shelton, was hired for that post and was in attendance Wednesday to congratulate Young on the award.
The district’s dropout rate has decreased from 7.6 percent to 2.54 percent during Young’s tenure at the helm. She has also led Jessamine County to increased scores in reading and math, particularly among students with disabilities, and has reduced district spending by more than $2.5 million in the last two years.
Young now goes forward for consideration as national superintendent of the year by the American Association of School Administrators.
Saylor said the award was merely an affirmation of what those in the district already believed.
“We have the best superintendent in the state,” he said. “We knew that before it was acknowledged.”