After 23 years in the Jessamine County school system, the last four as deputy superintendent, Owens Saylor is going west to become the new chief of schools in Daviess County.
Former Daviess County superintendent Tom Shelton left last summer to take the same post in Fayette County.
“I took a look at my age and the opportunities that I have, and I found Daviess County to be a very interesting district,” Saylor, 54, said. “When that opening became available, I started studying the land and decided that was something that I was very interested in, and I was lucky enough to get the job.”
The Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education made the decision to select Saylor at a special called meeting Monday with a 4-1 vote, Owensboro’s Messenger-Inquirer reported, with the lone “no” vote coming from a member who wanted to keep interim superintendent Mike Gray.
“The thing I hope all the board members will find is that I will win them over quickly because I care so much about kids and about the work that we do in teaching and learning,” Saylor said. “I see it sort of as a challenge; I’m going to make sure that that one board member really does get to know me and is proud for me to be their superintendent.”
Jessamine County superintendent Lu Young has worked alongside Saylor in various roles for the past 15 years and said she would “miss him terribly.” She said his “on-the-ground” experience as deputy superintendent had prepared him for almost every aspect of superintendency.
“He’s got all the right traits that a 21st-century superintendent needs to have,” Young said. “He’s very focused on teaching and learning, and his expertise around instructional leadership is really strong; that’s his strongest suit. He’s got really good interpersonal skills and such high energy; he just relishes the work that we do, and that comes across any time you meet him.”
Saylor’s first day in Owensboro will be July 1, although he said he would “have one foot in both places” throughout the transition.
“We haven’t really started (planning the transition) yet,” he said Tuesday. “This all sort of came down last night; there was some pretty fast activity.”
Saylor became assistant superintendent of Jessamine County Schools in 2004 and deputy superintendent in 2008. He said he’s confident that his 23 years of experience in Jessamine County will “pay dividends” in a new district.
“I’ve been so blessed to be mentored by many of Kentucky’s greatest leaders,” he said. “I’ve had such an opportunity to grow, both professionally and personally, and it’s done nothing but prepare me. I feel so ready and so excited about this next step.”
Saylor was driving back from the state softball tournament in Owensboro last summer when the Fayette announcement was made; he had been following the story closely since Young was one of the three finalists for the post. He said he was interested in the Daviess County job as soon as he knew Shelton was leaving for Lexington.
“It’s as bittersweet as it could be,” Saylor said. “I just love Jessamine County. I now have very deep roots here, and it’s going to be very hard to pull up those roots, although I get the feeling that they’ll never ever totally be separate. I’ve always had great friends — equal to family — here, and part of this will always be my home.”