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Higdon ready to embrace superintendent role

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‘Throughout my career, I feel like that is something I was always ultimately working toward.’

By Zac Oakes

 

Charles Higdon, Jr., applied when the Taylor County Superintendent position last opened in 2009. He was principal of Taylor County High School at the time, a position he had only been in for two years. 

At the time, he knew he wasn’t ready to be a superintendent, but he wanted the experience. He knew that being Superintendent of Taylor County Schools was his ultimate dream. 

“Throughout my career, I feel like that is something I was always ultimately working towards,” Higdon said. 

That dream came to fruition when he was selected to be the district’s next superintendent at a recent Taylor County Board of Education meeting. 

“There were 25 or 30 superintendent openings around the state, but this was the only one I was interested in,” he said. 

Higdon doesn’t officially begin in his new role until July 1, but he sat down with the CKNJ to discuss his plans and goals for when he officially begins his new position. 

Higdon said one of the first things on the agenda is simple: listening. 

He said he wanted to talk with various stakeholders in the district: teachers, staff, school administrators, board members, parents, students, etc. to hear their questions, thoughts, and concerns about the district and how to move forward. 

“I want to gain input and see what the perceptions are from all of our stakeholders,” Higdon said. “I want to hear what the students have to say, the parents, the staff, our local businesses and industry, and then we begin working on a strategic plan with the board.” 

Higdon said part of his vision for the school district is to “continue raising expectations.” He credited current superintendent Roger Cook for raising expectations around the district. 

“I know we have a solid foundation, one that we want to continue to grow on,” Higdon said. “So it is not a leadership position or opportunity that I am coming in to make a ton of changes, but I want to continue to grow, continue to move, and never become stagnant.” 

Two areas in particular that Higdon noted were college and career readiness, as well as school safety. 

With college and career readiness, he mentioned the Central Kentucky Career Center (the old Taylor County Elementary School) that is still in the works. Higdon said they hopefully will be able to use the upstairs portion of the building by the fall, and want to have a full grand opening by January. 

“It’s just another opportunity for the whole community,” Higdon said. “That’s a joint venture between city and county government, the Campbellsville Independent School District, us, and Green County Schools.” 

Higdon said his hope is that when students leave the Taylor County School District, they have a strong work ethic, goals, and a desire to succeed. 

“When people leave here from Taylor County, we want employers to say these kids know how to work, they have a good work ethic, they are great kids, they are well-mannered, and they have great skill sets.” 

On school safety, Higdon said the district has already taken some steps toward trying to ensure the schools are safer. However, he said he wants to continue taking steps to ensure the safety of students. 

Higdon said he wants to involve the community in that process. He said one of the first things he wants to do when he begins as superintendent is to hold a school safety forum involving community members. 

“I would like to have a community forum, maybe sometime in July,” Higdon said. “Where we bring in any community member who wants to give their input. We want input from all first responders, all stakeholders. We want to involve both the sheriff’s office and the city police. We want to sit down and discuss updating our plan and doing everything possible to make sure we keep the kids safe.” 

Higdon said he plans to take a hard look at the current safety plans, along with district stakeholders, to see what improvements can be made. 

“Just like with strategic planning for budgets or buildings, we want to do the same thing for school safety,” Higdon said. “One of the first plans we want to work on is safety. We’ll have staff trainings and we’ll work with students on safety plans. You have to be able to keep students safe and make them feel safe and protected while at school, or learning cannot take place… We can’t prevent everything, we can certainly come up with better plans and we can take input from others.” 

Higdon said the Barracuda door security devices are a great addition to the district, and said there may be some conversations about adding a fourth school resource officer to the district. The district currently has three SROs. 

Overall, Higdon said his focus as superintendent is going to be on the district’s students and faculty/staff. 

“It’s not about me,” Higdon said. “Everything I do is going to be about helping my students and staff improve and achieve success. One of the things that attracted me to this position was the staff that we have in this district. We may have the most amazing staff in this state. We have people who literally care every single day and they come to school and they care about the kids. That is what we’ve been hiring for a long time now and that is what we promote. That is what made it easy for me. I want to work with this staff.” 

What can the community expect from Higdon as the superintendent of the Taylor County School District? 

“They can expect a model for their children, someone who is going to be a Christian model focused on serving others on a daily basis,” he said. “I’m going to respect their children and respect them. I’m going to have an open door for the community. I’m going to come in and work every day and give it my absolute best.”