The Kentucky Board of Education released the names Thursday of five candidates for the job of state education commissioner.
The board will meet Friday and Saturday in Lexington to conduct second-round interviews with each of the five.
■ Kathleen M. Airhart, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Tennessee Department of Education. She oversees the department's finances, federal programs, audits, information technology and human resources. She previously was the state's chief academic officer, overseeing curriculum and instruction, career and technical education, special populations, and other areas. Airhart is a former teacher, special education supervisor and superintendent of the Putnam County school system in Cookeville. She earned bachelor's, master's and educational specialist degrees from Tennessee Technological University, and a doctorate in education from Tennessee State University.
■ Buddy Berry, in his sixth year as superintendent of Eminence Independent Schools in Henry County. Berry's previous experience includes math teacher and head football coach at Owen County High School and Jeffersontown High School; guidance counselor at Shelby County High School; math teacher at Eminence Independent High School; and a highly skilled educator with the Kentucky Department of Education. Berry earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky; a master's from Bellarmine University; a superintendent's certificate from Eastern Kentucky University; and a doctorate in education from Northern Kentucky University.
■ Christopher A. Koch, interim president of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. He was state education superintendent in Illinois from December 2006 to May. Koch has been an assistant superintendent, chief education officer and director of special education with the Illinois state education agency; an education program specialist with the U.S. Department of Education; and a special education/vocational teacher in four states. Koch earned a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University and a master's degree and a doctorate in education from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
■ Lloyd D. Martin, CEO of Universal School Solutions, an education consultancy firm he founded in 2010 in Jacksonville, Fla. Martin's experience includes being superintendent of Mansfield City Schools in Ohio; executive director of kindergarten through ninth-grade education with Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville; executive principal with Dayton Public Schools in Ohio; and principal, assistant principal, leadership trainee and social studies teacher with Columbus Public Schools in Ohio. Martin earned a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University and a master's degree from the University of Dayton, where he also earned a doctorate in philosophy.
■ Stephen L. Pruitt, senior vice president at Achieve Inc., an independent nonprofit education-reform organization. Pruitt's experience includes chief of staff, associate state superintendent, director of academic standards, and science and mathematics program manager with the Georgia Department of Education. He also has been a high school chemistry teacher in Fayetteville and Tyrone, Ga. Pruitt earned a bachelor's degree from North Georgia College and State University; a master's from the University of West Georgia and a doctorate in philosophy from Auburn University.
"The pool of candidates for this position was excellent because of the extensive outreach and Kentucky's strong history as a progressive leader in public education," said Roger Marcum, chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education.
The new commissioner will replace Terry Holliday, who is retiring next week.
The board has selected associate commissioner and general counsel Kevin C. Brown to serve as interim commissioner.