Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dr. Stephen Pruitt brought partnership, humility and respect to his tenure at KDE

I would like, on behalf of the Owensboro Public Schools, to recognize and thank Dr. Stephen Pruitt for his time in service to our state education system.  He was forced to leave his role as Commissioner in a heavy-handed way by the current regime in Frankfort.   Because of that, it is important that we stop and take note of the class that he brought to the position from the time he started until his very last comment as Commissioner yesterday.

Dr. Pruitt and Congressman Brett Guthrie with students at the
Owensboro Innovation Academy in  September 2016. 
He has worked as a servant leaders for ALL students in ALL Kentucky schools since his appointment in the fall of 2015.  He came to Kentucky with a highly qualified resume as a high school chemistry teacher and has also served at the state level as deputy education commissioner in Georgia.

Dr. Pruitt has visited schools all around the Commonwealth, including many in Owensboro.  He was very teacher-focused and distinguished himself by reaching out and seeking input from all constituent groups-- educators, parents and community leaders.

Perhaps the best example of Dr. Pruitt's leadership occured on January 23rd after the tragedy in Marshall County.  After receiving the call about the school shooting at Marshall County High School, he and many KDE staff members traveled to Benton to provide support.  He advised his staff not to bring suits, ties, and dresses, but jeans.  They were not going for media or public attention, but to support the people of Marshall County by working alongside them in their time of need.

Dr. Pruitt shared his experience with State School Chiefs from around the country in March saying "I don't care what your political persuasion is, what I care about is that the children that need us.  We have an incredible role to play in partnering with districts and educators."

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Pruitt for the first time at a function in Washington D.C. at the Aspen Institute a few months before he got the job in Kentucky.  My first impression was that, despite all the state and national-level work he had done, he still thought like a teacher.  He put the students first and understood the value of great teaching as the centerpiece of education.

Dr. Pruitt, thank you for your partnership, humility and never-ending respect for the work of educators--- traits that have become increasingly rare among the political leadership in Frankfort.


  1. Well said Dr. Brake! Kentucky certainly benefitted from the leadership Dr. Pruitt provided during his tenure as our Commissioner of Education!

  2. Nick, you honor me far more than I deserve. Thank you for your support, your friendship, but most importantly for your commitment to our kids. Keep everyone focused on why we do this work, our kids. - Stephen Pruitt

  3. Fantastic article, Dr. Brake! Well said.