Pruitt named state’s new education commissioner

Stephen Pruitt

Stephen Pruitt

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Board of Education voted to extend an offer of employment to Stephen L. Pruitt to become Kentucky’s sixth commissioner of education. Pruitt is currently senior vice president at Achieve, Inc., an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization based in Washington, D.C.

The Kentucky Board of Education took the action to hire Pruitt at a special-called meeting in Frankfort. Chairman Roger Marcum said the board has done its due diligence and the board is unanimous in its decision that Pruitt is the right person for the job.

“We are extremely proud to have someone of Dr. Pruitt’s caliber to consider for the position,” Marcum said. “We feel like this is a great decision for public education in Kentucky – for our educators and students alike.”

In discussing their impressions of Pruitt, board members cited his outstanding communication skills, academic experience, in-depth understanding of education issues, emphasis on collaboration, ability to build relationships, proven track record of building coalitions and partnerships, approachability and his enthusiasm – especially for Kentucky and the future of Kentucky.

“I am honored and excited that the board is extending an offer of employment for me to be the next Commissioner of Education for the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Pruitt said in a statement read by Marcum. “I thank the Kentucky Board of Education for its support and confidence. I am looking forward to attending the October 6 board meeting to finalize my selection and begin making plans for starting work by mid-October. As a classroom teacher, a state administrator, and vice president for an education non-profit, my focus has always been on doing what is best for students and that will not change as Commissioner. I anticipate collaborating immediately with our state and community leaders to empower educators and parents, and provide every Kentucky student with an education that prepares them for success in the 21st century.”

Dr. Pruitt’s prior experience includes chief of staff, associate state superintendent, director of academic standards, and science and mathematics program manager with the Georgia Department of Education; and high school chemistry teacher in Fayetteville and Tyrone, Georgia.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College and State University, a master’s from the University of West Georgia and a Doctorate of Philosophy from Auburn University.

Pruitt is 47. He and his wife have two children. Their son is in college at the University of Colorado-Boulder and their daughter is a high school junior and will be attending a Kentucky public school.

The board plans to ratify the new commissioner’s contract at its October 6 meeting. Pruitt is expected to start work October 16.

“Dr. Pruitt told the board that he sees this position as the capstone of his career, and that he intends to be here a long, long time as our commissioner,” Marcum said.

During the search for a new commissioner, the board and Greenwood/Asher and Associates, Inc. made more than 330 contacts, reviewed detailed information on approximately 44 individuals and interviewed 13 candidates.

Pruitt replaces Terry Holliday, who retired as education commissioner last month.

Associate Commissioner and General Counsel Kevin C. Brown is serving as interim commissioner until Pruitt officially begins his duties.

— Kentucky Department of Education press release 


American say there is more to success than testing, split on ‘opting-out’ poll finds

The public believes there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in their local schools but are split almost evenly on whether parents should have the right to excuse their children from such testing, a new survey shows.

Sixty-four percent say there is “too much emphasis on testing” and 41% say parents should be able to opt their children out of standardized testing. A majority (54%) oppose having local teachers use the Common Core Standards to guide what they teach.

However, blacks and Hispanics are somewhat more likely than whites to say that results of standardized tests are very important to improve schools and to compare school quality. Blacks also are more likely than whites to say that parents should not be allowed to excuse their child from taking standardized tests.

A strong majority — about eight in 10 — of the U.S. public believes the effectiveness of their local public schools should be measured by how engaged the students are with classwork and by their level of hope for the future.

These and other findings are included in the 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. Conducted annually by PDK International in conjunction with Gallup, the poll is the longest-running survey of attitudes toward education and thus provides an extensive and trusted repository of data documenting how the U.S. public’s views on public education have changed over the decades.

For the first time, the 2015 poll is able to report opinions among whites, blacks and Hispanics because of the addition of a web-based poll with a larger sample of 3,499 U.S. adults.

Read the full report here.

Ten schools named to TELL ‘Winner’s Circle’

This week, the Kentucky Department of Education named 10 Kentucky public schools to its “Winner’s Circle,” recognizing them for effective teaching and school leadership practices.

The 10 were chosen based on the 2015 Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning Kentucky Survey, which was administered to all public school teachers and principals in March and on school safety and student achievement scores.

  • Carter G. Woodson Academy in Fayette County;
  • Allen Central High School in Floyd County;
  • Arnett Elementary School in the Erlanger-Elsmere school district;
  • Ballard Memorial High School in Ballard County;
  • Chenoweth Elementary School in Jefferson County;
  • Earlington Elementary School in Hopkins County;
  • Gamaliel Elementary School in Monroe County;
  • North Marshall Middle School in Marshall County;
  • Park City Elementary School in Barren County; and
  • Thomas Nelson High School in Nelson County.

Watch What Others Do On Social Media; Use Facebook Pages To Help

Use Facebook Page Insights to help monitor what others are doing — successfully or not — on social media. Via NSPRA.

NSPRA: Social School Public Relations

Some of the best social media ideas I have implemented have come from watching what other schools and districts are doing. Watch what others do on social media. Repeat after me: watch what others do on social media. Watching what others do will give you ideas on how to expand your social media presence and ideas on how to keep content fresh.

As part of my professional development, I follow several other schools, districts and school PR people from across the country on social media. However, sometimes I miss really great posts. To help, I use Facebook Insights. It helps me to track schools I know are using social media really well.

In Facebook Page Insights, I can add pages to watch. It lists the pages, the total page likes they currently have, their increase or decrease in likes for the week, the number of posts for the week and their…

View original post 38 more words

Register now for our fall conference!


The Kentucky School Public Relations Association will host its annual Fall Conference Thursday and Friday, Nov. 5 and 6, in beautiful Bardstown. Click here to register! (Full day Thursday, ending mid-day Friday.)

We’ll begin with a day of engaging, instructive professional development (and fun, too!) at My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Topics will include how to “shape up” your positive PR efforts through videography photography, social media and more. KSBA’s Brad Hughes will wrap up the day’s sessions with his talk on “The Good, The Bad and Avoiding The Ugly.”

But that’s not all! On Thursday evening, join us for the OASIS Awards Dinner. In conjunction with the KSBA, we’ll recognize districts for exceptional work in school communications across a variety of formats.

Friday will be highlighted with a chance to shape up a different type of PR — your 5k personal record! We’ll be offering a 5k and 1 mile run/walk right there in My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Several additional professional development sessions will follow this fun, new event.

Come early, stay late — this is an invaluable chance to network with your colleagues! Don’t forget Bardstown is in the heart of Bourbon Country — save time to tour any of the five nearby distilleries, including Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill and Jim Beam. Or, take a ride on the My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train, visit the Kentucky Railway Museum or study up at Whisky Magazine’s 2014 Visitor Attraction of the Year, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.

Click here to register today! Please note: If paying by check/invoice/PO, click the “Show other payment options” button under the credit card icons on the first page.

Conference topics available here.

 The Hampton Inn – Bardstown would love to hold a room for you (group code: KYS) at just $99 per night for single or double. Hotel number is 502-349.0100 or, 800.hampton.

October Observances

Some ideas for your school public relations planning next month!

October is Bullying Prevention Month — lots of great resources:

Other observances in October:

  • Oct. 2 – Custodial Worker Day
  • Oct. 2 – National Diversity Day
  • Oct. 5 – World Teachers’ Day
  • Oct. 5 – Bullying Prevention/Blue Shirt Day
  • Oct. 5-9 – Fire Prevention Week
  • Oct. 6 – American Libraries Day
  • Oct. 12 – Columbus Day
  • Oct. 12 – Native American Day
  • Oct. 12-16 – School Lunch Week
  • Oct. 14 – National Fossil Day
  • Oct. 16 – Alternative Fuels Day
  • Oct. 16 – Dictionary Day
  • Oct. 19-23 – Earth Science Week
  • Oct. 19-23 – School Bus Safety Week
  • Oct. 24 – United Nations Day
  • Oct. 31 – Halloween
  • Oct. 31 – UNICEF Day

Teacher Achievement Awards — Your Stories

Yesterday, the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland Inc. announced the 24 recipients of the 2016 Teacher Achievement Award. These educators will vie for the title of Kentucky Teacher of the Year next month.

In all, 18 districts across the state are represented in this year’s awards. We’ve collected stories from those districts and shared them here:

If we don’t have your link yet, post it below and we’ll add to the main article ASAP.