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Here Are The Three Finalists For Kentucky's Top Education Official

The Ky. Board of Education has selected three candidates for the state's top education official.
Ky. Department of Education
The Ky. Board of Education has selected three candidates for the state's top education official.

The Kentucky Board of Education has named three finalists in its search for a new commissioner of education, the state's top education official.

All three have a Kentucky connection and experience in the classroom, whether that be K-12 or in higher education. The board said it received 46 applications, and with the help of a search firm conducted several rounds of interviews to whittle down the candidates to four on Jun. 25. The following three candidates decided to continue with another round of interviews, scheduled for July. 6-7. A final decision is expected in mid-July.

Jason Glass

Jason Glass is currently serving as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools, near Denver, Co. Jeffco is a district of 84,000 students. Before that, Glass was superintendent of Eagle County Schools, also in Colorado. Glass also served as Iowa’s top education official from 2010 to 2013, where he shepherded several reforms to the state's teaching profession through the Legislature. Glass is a native of Brandenburg, Ky. He has a doctorate in education leadership from Seton Hall University, and master's degrees in political science and education, and a bachelor's in political science and history from the University of Kentucky.

Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is the dean of the University of Kentucky’s college of education, where he teaches educational policy. He's also led the doctorate program in Educational Leadership at California state University, and taught at the University of Texas. Heilig is the co-author of numerous academic studies bringing a skeptical eye to many hallmarks of the education reform movement: charter schools, Teach For America, and high-stakes testing. Heilig is a Michigan native. He has his doctorate of education administration and policy analysis, as well as a master's of sociology from Stanford University. He has a master's in higher education and a bachelor's in history and psychology from the University of Michigan.

Felicia Cumings Smith

Felicia Cumings Smith is Jefferson County Public Schools' (JCPS) assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. She has previously served as associate commissioner in the Kentucky Department of Education, leading three branches of KDE. Cumings Smith has also worked for several national nonprofits, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she led efforts to change state and district systems to improve student outcomes. She began her career teaching for JCPS. Smith is a Kentucky native, and has her doctorate in instruction and administration from the University of Kentucky. She also has a master's degree and bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Louisville.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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