• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm leaving school district

Jimmy Brehm, who was hired as Woodford County Public Schools’ chief academic officer before the 2015-16 school year, said, “I never intended to leave … ever.” Brehm said he and his wife, Shannon, moved here with their daughter because they love Woodford County. Mayleigh will still be going to kindergarten at Southside Elementary School next August, but her dad has accepted an offer to be vice president of academic planning and solution development for Scholastic Education. This is his final week in Woodford County schools. “This opportunity came along, and the more I learned about the opportunity … the more I felt that I needed to take that chance to really follow that passion of literacy,” said Brehm during a telephone interview last Friday afternoon. “What I love doing is working with all teaching and learning, but especially working with literacy,” he added. “And when the opportunity arose to … focus on literacy work for students from all demographics in all parts of our country, I just couldn’t say no to that level of opportunity, because I’m so passionate about that work.” It’s his passion for literacy, and more specifically, his passion for the teaching and learning that happens in a classroom that Brehm said he most enjoyed about his work as chief academic officer. It’s also why he’s looking forward to working with other school districts across the country to improve the lives of students and communities, he said. “I’m nervous about (this job opportunity), I’m certainly anxious about it, but I’m also really excited for it,” said Brehm. He said teachers still make the greatest impact on the lives of students. “So when I made the choice to no longer be a classroom teacher, I felt the promise I was making to education and to myself was that you’re going to impact more students in a different way,” said Brehm, a former science teacher who became a principal and then director of curriculum and assessment in Fayette County Public Schools before coming here. He described the job opportunity with Scholastic Education as an avenue for him to help even more students, but he still likes being in the classroom. “I’m encouraged and very hopeful that this (new job) will allow me to be inside of classrooms and continue to work alongside teachers,” said Brehm, who will travel to other school districts, but also work from his Woodford County home. “As a resident of Woodford County,” he said, “I will support (public education here) because I’m going to have a little girl going to Woodford County schools. So I will of course take an invested interest in Woodford County schools moving forward – both professionally and personally.” Reflecting on his tenure in Woodford County schools, Brehm said he’s most proud of being able to work with an amazing group of educators as well as school and district leaders to improve student achievement over the last five years. Brehm said he’s also proud that Woodford County schools has increased opportunities for students in terms of a dual credit program, which allows WCHS students to earn college credits, as well as a restructuring of the alternative school program (known as Safe Harbor Academy) to give students different avenues for success in the classroom. It was Brehm’s passion for student learning and helping them “reach their highest level possible” that drove him every single day, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. He said Brehm’s ability to build genuine relationships with teachers and other people in the schools was his avenue for doing “some pretty incredible things.” “It’s a big loss,” said Hawkins. “… He was just a tremendous value to our team. And so when you lose somebody that has the talents and skill set that he had, it’s a loss for your school district.” Hawkins said the district will look for an interim to finish this school year and then seek applicants for a permanent successor in the spring. “If we’re able to post the position (in) March or April,” he said, “… I think that would put us in a position to draw a good pool of candidates …” Hawkins said any adjustments in job responsibilities would not occur until after filling the chief academic officer vacancy. Brehm said it’ll be very difficult to say goodbye at the end of his final work week in Woodford County schools. “That’s not something I’m very good at,” he acknowledged. “I enjoy forming relationships with people, especially people as great as we have in Woodford County, and I do not like to say goodbye to people.”

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