Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Commish is Super

This from GRC Online:

After beginning her career in Clark County,
Elaine Farris returns to lead district

For Elaine Farris, it’s been a full circle journey. The career educator began kindergarten in Clark County at the age of five, and after 27 years of professional preparation at all levels, Mrs. Farris is now Clark County Schools superintendent.

“It’s exciting to be back home again,” Mrs. Farris said Tuesday after the Board of Education awarded her a four-year contract as superintendent. “I can’t express to you what this feeling is. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am so excited about the opportunity.”

Mrs. Farris brings to her new position a wide range of experience in education, from physical education teacher at Odell Gross, to ninth grade principal at George Rogers Clark, to Kentucky Distinguished Educator, to Shearer Elementary principal, to interim Commissioner of Education, a position she has held since January.

In announcing the hiring, Board chairman Judy Hicks said the Board is “excited about the level of instructional leadership, passion, energy, enthusiasm and expectation that Elaine Farris brings to our school district and to the community of Winchester and Clark County.”

Though her resume is sparkling and her accomplishments vast, Mrs. Farris’s strongest points reach far beyond paper. “We have to understand that what this is really all about is the kids,” she told GRC Online after the hiring became official. “I’m a big proponent of hearing the student voice. I will organize a superintendent student advisory council and I will meet with them on a regular basis and hear what they have to say.

Oftentimes we make decisions and we don’t hear from the kids. I look forward to
getting to know my students here, interacting with them and having a close relationship with the kids because that’s really what it’s about.”

Board member B.J. Swope said Mrs. Farris is uniquely qualified. “She was the best candidate and we’re excited about her being here,” he said.

Mrs. Farris and husband, Alvin, have a son, Ryan, who was educated in Clark County schools, and now have three grandchildren in the district, two at Conkwright and one at Central Elementary.

In her comments to a packed Central Office boardroom, Mrs. Farris called Clark County “an outstanding school district” and pledged to take it to the “next level.”

“I appreciate and want to publicly recognize and honor the work that has gone on here and that is currently taking place,” Mrs. Farris said. “Thank you Central Office staff, building principals, faculty and staff for what you are doing and will continue to do for kids. I know that what you do makes a difference. We -- this board team, this district, the school staffs and this community -- must have a collective obligation to provide every child in every classroom every day, a quality education. I know that this is what this board team wants because we discussed it in our interview.”

Mrs. Farris stressed the importance of collaboration between education, business,
faith-based organizations and universities in the community. “We must have that kind of collaboration if we are going to achieve at high levels for all of our students,” she said. “During my interview with this board team, we discussed the opportunity to move this district from good to great. In order for us to make that happen, we have agreed that we are going to focus on the right stuff and we are going to go in the right direction together."

Board member Debbie Fatkin praised each candidate who made the final five. “Each interview was a great interview,” she said. “They all did an excellent job. With Elaine, it was about passion.”

Indeed. And it showed when she took the podium. “I make a commitment that I will work tirelessly to lead and to work with this board and this community to make this school district a great school district,” Mrs. Farris said. “You know why? Because these children -- our children, -- their families, and our community deserve nothing less. I am willing and ready to come back home and move this district to the next level. I am excited about being back home.”

Elaine Farris hired as new superintendent

Clark County’s own Elaine Farris was hired Tuesday as the new superintendent, punctuating an illustrious career in education that includes three local schools.

Farris, who has served since January as interim state Commissioner of Education, was superintendent at Shelby County Schools for three years before joining the state department as deputy commissioner in 2007.

Prior to leaving Clark County to become elementary director for Fayette County Schools in 2001, Farris served as Shearer Elementary principal. Farris lived in Clark County while she worked as a Kentucky Distinguished Educator, and before that, she was assistant principal at GRC, health and PE teacher at GRC, and PE teacher at Odell Gross Elementary, where she began her teaching career.

The board’s unanimous vote met with rousing applause from a packed Central Office boardroom.

SOURCE: Clark County schools by way of KSBA

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