• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Hawkins reflects on 13 years as schools superintendent


As he approached leaving the post after 13 years as schools

superintendent, Scott Hawkins told the Sun he had “mixed emotions.” No

longer having daily interactions with people in Woodford County Public

Schools he’s known for so long was going to be tough, he acknowledged.

“But there is excitement too about looking forward to what’s next,” said

Hawkins. While he has no set plans for the years to come, he said, “I’m

looking forward to a little less stress and looking forward to more

evenings at home,” with his wife, Julie, and their daughter, Anna Beth.

Hawkins said he and Julie, a former elementary principal, have “lived

the administrative life for a long time,” so he’s ready to spend more

time together – that doesn’t involve going to a ballgame or band concert

at one of the schools.

“We’re going to have all this time and we’re going to have to rediscover

ourselves, really as a married couple,” said Julie.

She said they were both teachers in western Kentucky when they met while

taking graduate courses – sitting on opposite sides of the classroom.

They got to know each other after he called her about showing up for a

class that was cancelled, telling her, “We missed you tonight in class.”

From their first date, “we’ve been together ever since,” Julie said.

Soon, she fell in love with him because if he believes in something, “He

will stay the course with it,” she said.

During their 30-year marriage, the educators mostly did not talk about

their jobs. “When he came home,” she said, “it was a safe haven.

“We enjoyed family. We weren’t talking shop 24/7. So it was nice.”

Both worked in administrative roles in Fayette County, but she said

Hawkins had his eye on Woodford County schools as a district where he’d

someday like to be superintendent. The couple was married for nearly 13

years when they had their first child. Anna Beth was only 3 when he

applied for the job here.

When Hawkins was hired 13 years ago, he believed this was a school

district – and community – where he could retire.

“I’m not necessarily a chaser looking for the next biggest thing or next

shiniest thing. That’s just not typically who I am,” said Hawkins.

His daughter started school here and that was a factor in him staying,

but Woodford County is also a nice place to live. Moreover, he said,

“It’s the perfect-size school district.”

Having one high school and one middle school allows the community to

rally around those students, and “I can visit every school in a day. So

to me, it’s just an ideal size.”

That’s why, Hawkins said, he was very content staying here.

“He never, ever, ever thought about leaving Woodford County – and

that’s the truth,” said Julie. “He never sought out another job

opportunity. He fell in love with the place from Day 1. And he had a

vision for where he wanted to take the district …”

Reflecting on what was accomplished during his tenure as superintendent,

Hawkins said he’s most proud of being able to expand opportunities for

students.

Whether it was the district’s implementation of a One-to-One program

that put computer tablets into the hands of students, dual-credit

courses for high school students so they could earn college credits or

adding an orchestra program for elementary, middle and high school

students – those new opportunities “were always about what else can we

offer for kids,” Hawkins said.

Giving students a chance to participate in athletics and other

co-curricular activities are vital to making them feel like they are a

part of something outside of the classroom, Hawkins said. “Because the

more that they are involved,” he explained, “the more successful they

can be.”

Growing up, Hawkins played sports and that gave him a competitive

spirit. “I always wanted to win,” he said. “I just always had a fierce

desire in me to be a part of a winning team … or to do something at a

very high level …” That has remained in him during his career as an

educator and administrator, because it drives his desire to always get a

little better.

“I always wanted Woodford County to be that district that other folks in

Kentucky would look to and say, ‘I want to see how they’re doing

things,’” Hawkins explained. And during his tenure as superintendent,

that has happened, which tells him, “We have really, really good people

… and when you let them do what they do best then you can accomplish

some really great things.”

As the school year wound down this spring, Hawkins said he began to

really appreciate those “last time” special moments with administrators,

teachers, students and others in the schools, which are difficult to

enjoy when you’re moving onto the next thing during a busy day as

superintendent.

Hawkins described being in schools to witness what teachers and students

are doing in their classrooms as “the best part of my job.” Hearing the

excitement in the voices of students when they tell him what they’re

doing in class reminds him “how special our profession is” and allows

him “to see the genuine joy that takes place in a classroom ...”

Of course, his last year as schools chief was unlike any other he’d

experienced because of COVID-19. “It was a very different year,” he

said. “But what it allowed me to do was truly appreciate how special it

is to have our kids in the building, and to see the interactions that

our staff has with our kids.”

Seeing the excitement on the faces of students when they did go back to

in-person learning makes Hawkins realize “in some ways this has been a

great year because you have been able to truly see the value in” what

teachers and others in education do for students every day, he said.

Even during a school year when students wore masks in the midst of a

pandemic, one young girl left a lasting impression on him. “You could

see in her eyes how excited she was about what they were doing in their

classroom,” he remembered.

“... She just couldn’t wait to show me what they had been doing ...”

For Anna Beth, last school year was a lot different too. She said her

peers had differing opinions about wearing masks, eating lunch in

cubicles and whether classes should be held virtually or in person.

While there’ve been ups and downs through the years, being the

superintendent’s daughter has been a positive experience for her, she said.

But not having a father who’s also superintendent, means he can attend

more of Anna Beth’s soccer games. In the past, she says, “He did miss a

few,” but now he’ll get to attend all her games and other activities.

“Those are things that I’m really excited about experiencing,” he said.

Even with the demands of being superintendent, Anna Beth said her dad

“was like my at-home physical therapist,” after she tore her ACL last

September. She credits him for helping her rehab from surgery by

reminding her, “Get more bend on my leg or … let’s try again … you can

do this.”

She said the pressures of being a superintendent’s daughter has eased

since her dad announced his retirement and he gets ready to move onto

the next chapter of his life – their life as a family.

“There’s a lot of things that I can’t really predict (about our future).

But I know right now she’s going to be a senior and we want to

experience that (as a family),” Hawkins said.

He will not be handing Anna Beth her diploma when she graduates from

Woodford County High School next year. But he said, “At the end of the

day, being able to see (her graduate) and experience it as a parent will

be pretty cool.”

Anna Beth said her dad has told her, “I will let you have your senior

year as your senior year. It won’t be ours.”

Since her first year of school (his second), they have always taken a

photo of their first day of school. Now, her senior year at WCHS will be

hers.

“It’ll be nice to not be the superintendent’s daughter – just Anna

Beth,” she said.

Next week’s second part of this feature story will focus on who

influenced Hawkins and his leadership style and how others view him as a

leader.

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