• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Akers leaving WCHS after 13 years as principal

WCHS PRINCIPAL Rob Akers spoke at what turned out to be his final commencement ceremony May 26 at Alltech Arena. He said the senior class of 2018 was the highest-achieving in the history of the school and reminded the soon-to-be graduates that the best leaders are empathetic. (File Photo)

Longtime Woodford County High School Principal Rob Akers has taken a job with the Kentucky Department of Education.

Details of his role will be known after a reorganization of the department’s leadership, but Akers said he’s looking forward to having an opportunity to help shape public education in Kentucky.

“It’ll be in senior leadership,” said Akers of his role. “I’ll be working closely with the commissioner, and working to help schools and students all over the state.”

Coming off what he has described as his best year at WCHS – boosted by his teachers embracing leadership positions – Akers said he felt comfortable accepting this unanticipated opportunity with the state because he leaves the high school “in the best place it’s ever been culturally and academically and instructionally…”

“There is not one person in our school who doesn’t love kids,” said Akers, 48. “And I think with that foundational piece we’ve been able to make the instructional changes and the cultural changes that have helped us to be so successful with our kids.” He credited his faculty for being passionate about what they do in helping WCHS become a top-five high school.

Now, Akers said he hopes his successor can take Woodford County High School to the next level by collaborating with a talented faculty that has demonstrated “exceptional leadership capacity.”

Coupled with the strong support at the district level, he said, “Whoever comes in is going to have unbelievable support….”

Akers’ decision to accept a job with the state Department of Education occurred during the first week of July, about a week after a June 26 special election when voters did not support a 5.5 cent property tax hike to pay for a new high school.

“…The election had nothing to do with it,” said Akers of his decision. “I was not looking for a job. It’s just an opportunity that came up and it was one where after a lot of thought and talking to my family and some prayer just decided that I was in a spot where I don’t think I could have ever done any better with the high school than I had. And I just felt like I was ready to try some new challenges and I’m excited about that opportunity.”

Akers did acknowledge that he was disappointed in the result of the special election. “We’ve worked so hard to become a top-five district and a top-five school, and we’ve done it in not a top-five facility,” he said. “Our kids, they have better facilities at the elementary and middle schools than we do at the high school. And so much of what we want for our kids is to have that top-flight experience, and it’s a shame that we weren’t able to win that for them.” The students and teachers deserved a new high school, he added.

“Like I told everyone on the tours” of the high school, said Akers, “Our teachers could teach in a cardboard box and our kids could learn in a cardboard box, but when you think about the opportunities that the new school would have afforded them with state-of-the-art equipment and state-of-the-art teaching …” He said the current high school does not have spaces designed for collaborative problem-solving opportunities.

With over half of his 25-year career spent as principal at WCHS, Akers had talked about staying at least through next school year when his daughter, Caryl Lyn, will graduate.

“She’s in a great place,” said Akers. “She’s been taken care of so well by her teachers here and had a great experience at Woodford County High. …To a degree, I think she might even be a little bit okay with having her senior year without her dad around.” He said his family will continue to live in Woodford County, where his wife, Derby, will remain as a guidance counselor at the middle school. She has been in Woodford County schools since 1993.

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