Manny Caulk named Kentucky Superintendent of the Year
Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk on Monday was named Kentucky Superintendent of the Year.
Caulk, who was hired by the local school board in 2015, “has led Fayette County Public Schools through a dramatic turnaround by intentionally engaging students, staff, families, and community members in a top to bottom examination of the district and building systems necessary for sustained success ,” a news release from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators said.
Finalists were chosen based on creativity in meeting students’ needs, communication, professionalism and community involvement.
Others in the running were Greenup County Superintendent Sherry Horsley; Trimble County Superintendent Steve Miracle and Union County Superintendent Patricia Sheffer.
In his first year in Fayette County, Caulk underwent successful surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his sinus cavity and went on to develop an action plan to obtain academic excellence that outlined 100 specific strategies. Those strategies were completed during the 2016-17 school year.
Caulk developed the district’s first strategic plan in a decade, worked with local business leaders to redesign high schools through the Ford Next Generation initiative, launched an volunteer campaign called “Give 10,” and was the first school district in Kentucky to establish a grant-funded Office for Educating Boys of Color.
In March 2017, the Kentucky Department of Education conducted its fourth audit of the district and afterward in a report said Caulk “has brought stability to the district,” and said the district has “capacity” to lead future improvements.
During the 2018 General Assembly, Caulk marched with teachers and other educators on the state capitol earlier this year pressing for a fully funded K-12 state education system and to protect pensions
Following this year’s mass school shootings in West Kentucky and Florida, and copycat threats in Fayette County, Caulk empaneled a task force to recommend safety improvements then led the effort for a safety tax increase to fund his $13.5 million plan of improvements. A signature effort to recall the tax increase was unsuccessful.
“ Having grown up in the inner city of Wilmington Delaware — a place so violent that Newsweek Magazine declared it ‘Murder Town USA’ — Caulk experienced poverty, homelessness, and hunger at an early age,“ a news release said.
“Despite living in a community where the public education system was broken, unemployment was high, fathers were missing, and crime was rampant, Caulk took the road less traveled and became the first person in his family to graduate from college,” the release said.
He began his career teaching fifth through 12th grade special education at a county detention center.
Before coming to work in Fayette County, Caulk had served as superintendent of Portland Public Schools, Maine’s largest school district. He previously was an assistant regional superintendent and deputy chief for the office of instruction and leadership support in the School District of Philadelphia, He also was assistant superintendent for high schools of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.
Caulk was also an elementary principal and a high school principal. He also practiced law, working as an education law attorney and former assistant prosecutor for the state of New Jersey,
Caulk earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Delaware and a law degree from Widener University School of Law. He is completing his doctoral degree in education.
Among the recognitions that Caulk will receive as Kentucky Superintendent of the Year is a $2,500 scholarship for a student in Fayette County’s school district and a trip to the American Association of School Administrators National Conference on Education in Los Angeles. The state competition is sponsored by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators and American Fidelity Assurance Company.