Central Office is being reconfigured to better streamline its chain of command, utilize the skills of current staff members and provide clearer, more accurate job descriptions.
There are now three staff members in new chief positions, serving in an interim capacity: Ron Ballard is interim chief of operations, Brian Gover is interim chief of staff, and Suzanne Farmer is interim chief academic officer. These positions all replace existing positions, so there has been no addition of Central Office roles. Instead, there is no longer an assistant superintendent job opening or director of teaching and learning job opening — the chief positions are replacing the need for those former positions.
Interim Chief of Operations Ron Ballard
The chief of operations position is replacing the director of pupil personnel and student support services position Ballard previously held. It will consist of much of the same responsibilities, with the addition of overseeing more directors’ departments, such as the director of transportation and facilities. Ballard will oversee transportation and facilities, food services, student support services, counseling and social-emotional learning, as well as special and alternative education.
Ballard has been the director of pupil personnel and student support services since 2019 and has been working for the Danville Independent School District since 2002 in teaching and principal positions. He also served in the military from 2006-2008 as a battery commander.
With the new chief of operations position, he said, “I hope to help people understand what current procedures and policies we have in place and how we fine-tune those, to be able to streamline anything we do as well as build new systems.”
The three chiefs and Superintendent Dr. Greg Ross have already begun coordinating through weekly focus meetings. Right now, Ballard is looking forward to the process of establishing a new strategic plan for the district, and how that will enhance the ability to create new comprehensive school improvement plans (CSIPs) and comprehensive district improvement plans (CDIPs).
“I think the development of a new strategic plan will enhance the district and schools’ ability to do our annual CSIP and CDIPs, and in that process, really focus on how we’re going to allocate resources to meet that five-year goal in the strategic plan, year to year.”
Interim Chief of Staff Brian Gover
The chief of staff position is replacing the director of human resources position. Previously there was a director of finance and human resources; now, there is a separate director of finance and a chief of staff. Gover previously held the position of director of technology, but in his many years serving the district, he has picked up a lot of additional responsibilities beyond technology, including involvement with federal programs and other roles.
The chief of staff position will include human resource management, staffing, overseeing the federal programs coordinator, and overseeing the district technology staff.
“I enjoy working with staff, with people,” Gover said. “I feel like I have a good disposition to talk to people, so I’m looking forward to that, to continue to work with staff.”
Gover has been the director of technology for 13 years and has been working for the district for a total of 23 years. Previously, he worked at John W. Bate Middle School as a teacher and later a curriculum and technology resource teacher.
He said with the restructuring of Central Office, he’s looking forward to there being more structure in leadership establishment, and a clearer guide for staff on who to go to for help or guidance.
He said, “In a small district like ours, you have to wear multiple hats, so this was just a way for us to continue to wear multiple hats, but there’s a better chain of command, so people know who to go to for help and support.”
“I just look forward to working with staff and supporting students, supporting the district as best I can,” he said.
Interim Chief Academic Officer Suzanne Farmer
The chief academic officer position is replacing the need for a director of teaching and learning. Farmer will take on the role of interim chief academic officer beginning May 1. Currently the principal at Mary G. Hogsett Primary School, she also sits on the United We Learn Council for the Kentucky Department of Education. She was selected as the Kentucky 2012 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching. Previously, she served as the Kentucky Director of the Network to Transform Teaching.
The chief academic officer position will oversee district assessment, professional learning, instructional coaches, instructional coordinators, curriculum, and the director of arts education.
Farmer has been the principal at Hogsett for four years and served as the assistant principal for one year, after it became a primary school. Previously she worked at Toliver Elementary School, now Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School, and the former Jennie Rogers Elementary School.
“I have really loved working at Hogsett, and I know it’s a special place, and it’ll be hard to not be in the building every day to see the kids and the teachers, because we have such a strong team here,” she said. “But I’m really excited about supporting Hogsett in a different way, at the district level, and being able to really intentionally work with all of the schools, so we have seamless transitions between our schools and that our teachers are truly supported in their learning and they can better support students as well.”
A couple of things she wants to focus on going forward are educator retention, assessment, and social-emotional learning, in addition to instruction.
“Teaching is hard, and it’s complicated … Part of it is making sure the people in those roles are supported to be successful,” she said. “You can’t just throw somebody in and expect them to know what to do. They have to have ongoing training and to feel supported in their learning. They need to be able to feel safe to make mistakes and ask questions and so it’s not just an evaluative process, but that there’s a growth and learning environment for educators.”
Later, she said, “We’re having to really intentionally teach social-emotional skills and make sure we’re meeting students’ needs emotionally so they’re ready to learn academics. You can’t learn when you’re not in the right state of mind first. And you have to be able to listen — there are certain skills we have to teach. So we have to be really intentional about that as far as instruction but also think about how we embed social-emotional learning into academic content.”
Pamela Hambrick, currently the assistant principal, will be filling Farmer’s shoes as principal for the remainder of the year beginning May 1.
“I am very excited to step into the role of principal for the rest of the year,” Hambrick said. “I look forward to just continuing the work that we’re already doing here at Hogsett to finish out the year strong with our students and teachers.”
Farmer said about Hambrick, “She’s already done a lot of the work. We’ve already been working in a way that she’s ready to take over. I think she will take Hogsett to the next level.”
- Danville Independent Schools
- central office
- interim chiefs