ops2 300OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/8/13) – The Owensboro Board of Education has spent the first three days of this week interviewing the top three front runners in its search for a new superintendent. Each day – Monday through Wednesday – the school board interviewed Rob Clayton, Mark Owens, and Nicholas Brake, respectively, in preparation for the departure of OPS Superintendent Larry Vick, who is retiring from the post after twelve years.

Just moments before meeting with the OPS Board of Education Monday evening, Clayton said he felt his tour of the facilities that day helped prepare him for the final interview.

"I'm very impressed with the facilities and the district," said Clayton. "The pride the district takes in their facilities really shows that the people here care."

Clayton, who has for the last seven years served as the principal of South Oldham Middle School, has almost 20 years' experience in education. He was a high school science teacher from 1993 to 2000, before becoming the assistant principal at South Oldham Middle School.

Clayton also shared his vision for the Owensboro school district on Monday.

"First, we must ensure the safety of all school and staff," said Clayton. "Secondly, we must ensure that all students, regardless of age or background, are able to learn to the best of their ability on our school system. Finally, every student must have multiple college and career opportunities."

Tuesday yielded the board's second option to fill the position that Vick will leave behind. Owens is a former coach and teacher who currently works for the Daviess County School System as that systems' Director of Personnel. He provided an extensive resume, which includes serving as the Principle of Burns Middle School and as an assistant principal at Henderson County High School.

Owens told SurfKY News on Tuesday that he envisions "re-establishing a culture of greatness" in the Owensboro School system.

"We need to make sure that the pride and community support people currently hold in the Owensboro Schools stays there, and that future generations recognize the benefits of such," said Owens.

Today, Brake toured and interviewed for his chance at the superintendent's position with the Board of Education at 6 p.m. Brake's 22-year career ranges from high school teacher and administrator at Daviess County High to Dean of Technical Programs at Owensboro Community and Technical College. He currently serves as the President/CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation.

Brake said he feels the time is right to return to his education roots.

"I've enjoyed the last seven years where I have served from a community leadership perspective," said Brake, "but I feel very strongly about schools and education. They certainly are a great part of the efforts that we've participated in the last several years in economic development.

"It's a great time to come into this school district," said Brake. "It's just an excellent time to step into the position of superintendent. Certainly my vision would be to continue the tradition of excellence as a high performing learning organization. First and foremost, we have to be about learning, and of course we understand that the contributing factor to student learning is high quality teaching. In the end, you improve one student at a time."

Brake has a daughter who is a freshman at Owensboro High School, and a son who is a fifth grader at OMS, so this will not be Brake's first affiliation with the Owensboro Public School System.

"My wife and I made the choice to enroll our kids in this school system, and it has been a marvelous opportunity for our kids, and it's been a great relationship for us as parents," he said.

Brake expounded upon his vision for the school system by adding, "I think we have what I call bookend issues. One issue is early childhood education. There is absolutely no question about the research that supports spending money on pre-K opportunities for children. Down the road, the return on investment of dollars spent on pre-K is phenomenal. I believe that we as a community should continue to provide high quality opportunities for pre-K children. The other end of the shelf is providing high quality technical programs for high school students. House Bill 97 is going to raise the drop-out age, so we need ways we can continually engage high school students in meaningful pathways that lead to work opportunities or post-secondary education opportunities that are preparing them for the work force."

The Owensboro Public Board of Education has scheduled a closed meeting for Thursday morning at 10 a.m. but stated in the announcement that members won't be taking any action during that meeting.

Alex Reid
SurfKY News

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