Alumnus Joshua Powell’s young career has seen much success in education reform. As the youngest superintendent in Kentucky’s history, he has twice come into a struggling school district and made significant improvements.
Josh was in his first year as a principal at Cloverport Independent Schools when the school board asked him to take over for a superintendent who was leaving. “I don’t even know how to be principal yet,” he remembers thinking. When he was promoted, the district was 165th out of 174 statewide. They were in financial trouble, had low test scores, and Kentucky was preparing to merge them with another district the next year.
Relying on his instincts to do what was right—instincts he says Berea helped him develop—Josh made targeted changes, working closely with teachers and administrators who shared his vision of putting students first. After months of hard work, Cloverport received their state test scores and discovered they’d made enormous gains, leaping from 165th in the State to 55th.
Reinvigorated by their success, Josh and his colleagues forged ahead. The next year, Cloverport went from 55th in Kentucky to 22nd. The next year, they cracked the top 10.
Josh remembers the moment at Cloverport when he realized, “I know what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” Teachers, students, parents, and administrators were celebrating their test scores. It was then Josh noticed the immense changes in his students. “It’s so much more than test scores,” he says. “Watching these people change, knowing that you’re giving them a complete future—once you’re a part of that, you can’t look back.”
And he hasn’t. After turning Cloverport around, Josh wanted to repeat his achievement on a larger scale. So he became superintendent of Union County Schools and had similar success there. He recently accepted a leadership position with the Montgomery County School district in Eastern Kentucky.
Such success has brought attention—Josh is a much sought after speaker at conferences.. A deeply proud Kentuckian, Josh’s ultimate goal is to see the Commonwealth’s schools lead the nation in educational attainment.
From the high expectations of his professors to his time in the Labor Program, Josh credits the College for laying the foundation to his current success. “Professors don’t come to work just to get a paycheck,” he recalls. “They have a sincere desire to affect every person’s life. I think about what my professors would say if they were watching me. There’s nothing more valuable than the Berea experience.”
Joanne Singh, Associate Vice President for Development, can help. Call her 800-457-9846, ext. 3056.