Candidates for city schools superintendent meet with teachers, staff, stakeholders



Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Monday, April 16, 2018 — Teachers, administrators and stakeholders of the Bardstown City Schools packed the school board meeting room Monday night to meet the three candidates seeking the position of district superintendent.

Phil Eason, the district’s consultant from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, introduced each candidate to the gathering.

Each candidate was asked a series of questions — five of which they weren’t familiar with. The candidates were unable to hear the other candidates answers prior to their turn to provide answers.

The three candidates represented the selection committee’s top picks from the list of candidates, and their answers

RYAN CLARK. The first candidate who spoke was Dr. Ryan Clark, the current principal at Bardstown Middle School.

Clark is a lifelong resident of Bardstown and he, his siblings and his wife are all products of the city schools.

“Beginning as a student and now as a school leader, I’ve seen the impact of our school tradition,” he said. “It makes an amazing impact on students and inspires them to do great things.”

Clark earned his doctorate in educational leadership in 2015, and has served as a school administrator the past 14 years.


He stressed his focus on changing kids’ lives as “the thing that brings me to school each day.”

Relationships make the city school system special, he said. He told the audience he was committed to the district and to the success of its students.

“There is no place I would rather be,” he said.

ANTHONY THOMPSON, director of pupil personnel of Russell Independent Schools.

“I believe we’re all in this together,” Thompson said of education a community’s children. “Every person, every family, and every organization.”

Thompson brings 20 years of educational experience to bear, including administrative experience as well as classroom experience.

There are challenges ahead, and public education — as it exists in Bardstown City Schools — has the tools to address those challenges, he said.

If named superintendent, Thompson promised to a visible and involved superintendent.

Despite what he called the “ebb and flow” of controversy over pension reform in the General Assembly, school districts must maintain control of the process of education for the betterment of its students.

“Excellent processes make for excellent outcomes, and you have excellent processes in place here in Bardstown,” he said.


He said the school district is known for paying its teachers well, and noted that the district’s culture includes kindness and inclusivity. “That makes it easier to draw people here than some other districts,” he said.

CHARLES “CHUCK” ABELL, assistant superintendent of Spencer County Schools.

Chuck Abell said his 26 years in education and administration have prepared him well for a role as superintendent of the Bardstown Independent School district, he told the audience.

Abell promised that he would be a hands-on administrator if hired as superintendent.

“I think a superintendent has to be visible in the schools,” he said. “My style is to be out in the classroom and the schools on a regular basis. You’ll see me at socials, you’ll see me at Spring Flings, you’ll see me at ball games.”

As far as retaining and recruiting teachers, Abell said it is important for the district to invest in its teachers and provide opportunities for teachers to sharpen their skills and grow ad educators.

In the classroom, Abell said he supports creating individualized learning for students in order to meet every student’s instructional needs. They need to be provided a variety of learning experiences.

“It all begins by identifying a set of competencies that are communicated at every grade level,” he said. “We want students to develop the skills to be successful in the real world.”

The growth of digital technology means kids today are “digital natives,” and therefore technology should be used for instruction and to allow access to instruction.

Abell said his core beliefs align with the values and of the school district.

“A quality, positive cultural climate is the foundation for school success,” he said.

NEXT STEP. According to Eason, the board of education will conduct interviews of the three candidates on Thursday. The board has announced a special meeting for noon Friday in anticipation of announcing its final selection for the superintendent’s job.

NEXT UP. The Bardstown City Schools board of education will meet at noon today for its regular monthly meeting.


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