Superintendent of Fayette County (KY) schools.
Stu Silberman, Superintendent, Fayette County (KY) Public Schools
Job: Since 2004, overseeing the 53-school district.
His Roots: I began as a pre-dental major in college. In my junior year, I made the decision to enter education. I stepped into that classroom, and I never left.
Being Tapped to Lead: My principal in Chattanooga City Schools tapped me on the shoulder and said he thought I would make a good administrator. Sometimes it’s a tap on the shoulder that gets us moving in the right direction.
Philosophy: When I was superintendent of the Daviess school district, brain-based learning made us a top-performing district in the state. I continue to support and implement brain-based learning in Fayette County.
On the Importance of the Arts: In Fayette, we also put great emphasis on the arts. We convened the community and agreed that the arts should be a major component; not only do they broaden our kids’ view of the world, but there’s also a direct tie-in to increased student achievement. Our students are exposed to music, visual arts, language, and critical-thinking skill games like chess very early on. In Daviess, every student had piano lessons in kindergarten. Here, we host an artist in residence. The achievement levels have gone through the roof.
Greatest Challenge: To close the achievement gaps, which we will do in my lifetime. In Kentucky, a score of 100 means a school has reached proficiency. When I arrived in Fayette, we had only three schools that had gotten there. When a school breaks 100, we hang a banner up in the auditorium. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s important. We started with three banners. Today, there are 19 banners, 19 proud schools.
On Lengthening the School Day: I’m in favor of it. In our after-school arts programs, we’re seeing strong results. The more time that the students spend with the teacher, the more they’re going to learn.
Proudest Moment: We recently held a community summit for the Fayette schools and 1,300 people showed up to be part of developing a plan to ensure all of our kids receive a world-class education.