Greenup County School Superintendent Sherry Horsley

LLOYD Retiring Superintendent Sherry Horsley leaves the Greenup County School District a better system than when she took on the job five years ago, educators and community members say.

“The district made tremendous gains in five years, with growth in all areas,” instruction, assessment and curriculum director Traysea Moresea said.

“I don’t know if her impact on the Greenup County school system is understood even yet,” said Greenup businesswoman and education advocate Marsha Applegate. “She turned a system that was struggling into schools of distinction and she did it in a very short time.”

Saying she needs to “slow down,” Horsley is stepping down  June 30 for health reasons. However, she plans to keep working in the education field, possibly with new principal and superintendent training. “I want to continue serving the community,” she said.

Horsley, a Greenup County native, returned to the district in 2014 from Carter County, where she was instructional supervisor.

When she arrived, Greenup County High School had been designated by the state as a persistently low achieving school and was climbing back to proficiency. Since then, Greenup has achieved district of distinction status.

Horsley also implemented a strategic plan focusing on universal preschool, college and career readiness and infusing technology in instruction and learning.

She has implemented professional development and leadership development opportunities for staff that have translated to better learning for children, other educators say.

Horsley encourages leadership, growth and professionalism and is constantly looking for ways to help leaders grow, said Greysbranch Elementary principal Misty Tackett.

“She has a high commitment to children and she wants the same opportunities for the children of Greenup County as students get in other districts. She looks for best practices and best programs . . . Her whole mindset is that our kids can do anything, they are capable of anything and with hard work anything is possible,” Tackett said.

Dual credit; literacy and preschool have made gains in Horsley’s tenure. The district has increased its dual credit offerings from 27 hours 53 hours and is poised to add nine more hours in the fall.

Preschool is offered to all children in the district without regard to economic status or other qualifiers. “Early education is the foundation for high school success and the whole foundation for further success in later life,” Horsley said. Kindergarten readiness scores have doubled, “and kindergarten teachers see the difference in what they’re ready to do,” she said.

A member of the Jesse Stuart Foundation board of directors, Horsley has enabled the presentation of more than 2,000 books per year to children in the district through the First Book program.

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Mike James is The Independent's education reporter. He has covered news in Northeast Kentucky since 1996.