Kim Conrad is new Catlettsburg principal

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

With the retirement of Jerry Wear, Catlettsburg Elementary will be under new leadership this year. Kim Conrad, who has 25 years of experience in the field of education, is the school's new principal.

Conrad said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but the decision to become a principal developed over time. She always enjoyed the school environment – her father was a middle-school teacher, her mother a librarian.

Conrad attended the University of South Florida, where she received a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She obtained her master's degree and educational specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University.

The most rewarding aspect of working in education, Conrad said, is the opportunity to work with children.

"Give me a room full of kids to lead versus adults anytime," she said. "They're so real. There's no pretense, and they love you unconditionally. You also never know what they're going to say, and that makes it fun."

After an eight-year teaching career in Florida, Conrad moved to Sevier County in 1995. She has worked within the county as both a teacher and administrator. She served as assistant principal of New Center School for 12 years, and most recently, she was the principal of Jones Cove for four years.

While she enjoys her work, she notes that the field of education has encountered drastic changes since she began her career. One of the most challenging is adapting the needs of students to a constantly changing society.

"It's always important to look at the whole child, not just their academic needs," she said. "All students have varying situations in their lives, and I truly believe that basic needs must be met first."

Beyond meeting those basic needs, Conrad's goals for the school year include expanding the use of technology, aiding teachers in raising test scores and preparing children for the future.

"We want to challenge them in today's world so they will be ready with technology. That's going to be important because that's where the future is," she said.

Conrad believes the new common core standards in education will be beneficial in helping educators attain this goal. The standards, which were passed in 45 states and the District of Columbia, are intended to be more in-depth and to better prepare students for college or a career.

"Kids moving in different places miss huge chunks of material, and common core attempts to fix that," she said. "It also delves deeper into problem solving. In math, for instance, in addition to applying computation, students must have a concept of what it means. Skills build upon each other, and that's a huge asset."

Conrad advises parents to be as involved as possible to ensure a successful school year for their children. "I realize people work and it's difficult, so when I say that, I mean help in any way they possibly can, even if it's just helping out at home with homework assignments," she said.

She further encourages students to come prepared and ready to learn. "We promote a family-friendly environment here at Catlettsburg," she said. "That's one of the first things I heard when I came in the door."

Conrad said she is fortunate to work in the Sevier County School System, where her educational philosophy is shared by leaders at the local Department of Education. "(Superintendent Jack) Parton, I believe, has a huge heart for the kids in Sevier County and has also mentioned at meetings the importance of meeting the basic needs of the students and developing the whole child," she said. "I'm with him 100 percent."

"I'm just extremely excited about the school year, and I feel blessed to be selected to be the principal at Catlettsburg," she added. n

jfrye@themountainpress.com