Kevin Hub is a military guy. You can see it in how he handles himself, in his straight bearing, and how he plants his feet when he talks before a crowd, in the way he walks down the hall of a school.
And if there is any doubt about his background of service, the 1989 West Point graduate has a decal proclaiming his alma mater on the back of the white Dodge Caravan he drives.
Scott County School Board member Jennifer Holbert said Hub’s military experience, especially his six-month tour as a platoon leader in Desert Storm, was one of the reasons he stood out among applicants for the job as Scott County superintendent.
“He took 39 men into battle,” she said. “He brought 39 men out.”
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And that take-charge attitude has come in handy as Hub’s faced an onslaught of issues in just 60 days.
Hub started in July following the often controversial tenure of Superintendent Patricia Putty. Putty retired, more than a year after the board voted not to renew her contract.
Hub took the job knowing he’d have to wrangle the unwieldy beast that is finding a solution to overcrowding at Scott County High School, which is made up of four parts: Cardinal Academy, an alternative school; the Scott Ninth Grade Center and Scott County High School, attended by 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Those three parts are all on one interwoven campus. The fourth piece, Elkhorn Crossing School, a college-track school with areas of study like engineering and law and justice, is about 4.5 miles away. The four-piece high school has 2,400 students and is about 20 percent over capacity.
Since Hub’s arrival a lot of unexpected things have happened outside of the classroom. Two top administrators — Director of Transportation Roy Prince and School Safety Director Mark Wickersham — left abruptly. Two lawsuits have been filed against the school board claiming employees were fired for expressing concern about administrative decisions made under Putty. A freshman at Scott County High School, Morgan Penn, was shot and killed a few weeks after school started. The district brought in counselors to help students and staff cope with their grief.
The diversions along the way have not deterred him, Hub said recently. The decision to postpone asking for the board to vote on a special tax increase for construction has, he said, “in no way changed my priority as superintendent.
“My passion to make this thing happen has not changed at all. It’s just the time line has changed,” he said.
In a short 2006 Q&A for the West Point Alumni newsletter, Hub talked about completing his doctoral dissertation at Louisville’s Spalding University while working full time as an educator. Get a plan, he said in the interview, and stick to it. He succeeded because, “I had a plan and did not deviate,” he told the interviewer.
His plan has always been to work with kids and to support his fellow teachers in the classroom. Often in conversation he will say “because of my teaching background” when explaining his educational philosophy.
Hub grew up in Cincinnati before moving to Powell County in seventh grade. From there he went to the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in engineering and environmental geography. After 40 months of active duty, he went to Eastern Kentucky University and received a masters of arts in education and then graduated from Spalding with a doctorate in education in leadership education.
He worked in Madison County schools for 20 years as a teacher, assistant principal and assistant superintendent. He was the superintendent in Logan County for two years of a four-year contract.
He helped cement support for school construction in Logan County, he said and was pleased with his tenure there. But, Logan County has about 4,000 students. Scott County has about 9,000 and continues to grow rapidly. He felt ready to take on the challenges of the bigger district when he left Logan County, he said.
Madison County Superintendent Elmer Thomas said Hub was instrumental in working with the Richmond Chamber of Commerce in the Madison County Business and Education Partnership. Hub also created Grow Your Own, a leadership building program where he regularly held seminars for staff on effective leadership strategies.
Thomas said Hub is “also always reliable to give you a straight-talk, no-nonsense answer when you need one.”
That trait has come in handy as he has tried to steer a somewhat reluctant community toward a second Scott County high school that he sees as inevitable. About 300 students are coming into Scott County schools each year and all are ultimately funneled into the current, single high school.
In the first town hall meeting about the second high school, Hub answered about an hour’s worth of questions without getting stumped.
“It’s not ‘Kevin Hub thinks,’” Hub said. “It’s, ‘These are just facts. Here are the student population numbers, here is a our bond capacity, here are the possible options for a second high school.’”
The community has a chance to make their preference clear as board member Jennifer Holbert’s seat is being contested, and two people have filed to replace outgoing board chairman Hayley Conway.
The election results, Hub said, “will give us a mandate.”
While Hub has been the public advocate for moving forward on a second high school, at a special board meeting last week all five board members said they supported the idea of a second high school, too.
At the meeting, several members said they had questions about the specific design of the school or its location that went unanswered during Putty’s tenure. But board Vice Chair Kevin Kidwell said the community shouldn’t place the blame for the delay of the school on Hub.
“He’s only been here 60 days.”
Getting a second Scott County high school is not the only item on Hub’s agenda.
Hub envisions spreading the innovative teaching strategies at Elkhorn Crossing across the district, he said. There has been a lot of focus on the achievement of the satellite high school which melds technology and instruction in focus areas like law and justice and engineering since it opened in 2010.
He plans to implement a Grow Your Own leadership program in Scott County beginning this fall. Once a month on Wednesday at Royal Springs he’ll be training any staff members who want to attend. In Madison County, everyone from administrators to bus drivers participated in the program, he said.
His visits to Scott County schools have shown him an abundance of what he considers the key to educational success: People who love working with kids.
“We can make them better teachers, we can make them better instructional assistants,” he said, “but they have to love kids. That is the spark.”