Emmanuel Caulk

Recognized for Leadership in Districtwide Improvement

  • Expertise: Districtwide Improvement
  • Position: Superintendent
  • District: Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington, Ky.

The tattered 6th grade report card inside Emmanuel Caulk’s wallet has motivated him for more than three decades. A handwritten note from his teacher—not the less-than-perfect grades—serves as his inspiration.

“He told me basically, ‘I’m not going to lower the bar for you. I understand where you’re going, and you’re going to get there. If you keep applying yourself, keep making those great choices, you’re going to get there,’ ” says Caulk, the superintendent in Kentucky’s 40,000-student Fayette County school district.

From his work as a special education teacher in a juvenile detention center to steering two school districts through financial crises, Caulk has adhered to the view of his 6th grade teacher: Where others see problems, he sees promise.

That’s why he took the superintendent’s job three years ago in Fayette County, which includes the city of Lexington. The district was beset with financial challenges and a fractious school board. Its leaders had drawn sharp criticism from the state’s education commissioner for ignoring the needs of low-income, nonwhite, and special education students. Now, residents, parents, and school board members say, Caulk has restored confidence in the school system with a sweeping improvement plan that has focused heavily on fostering broad community support and zeroing in on the needs of students who struggle the most.

Lessons from the Leader

  • Establish Collective Values: Decisions and actions of the organization have to be driven by a shared mission and values that are reflective of your community.
  • Expect Results From Yourself and Others: You have to commit to proving every day that you’re the right person for this work. Sharing accountability at every level of the district is essential because it doesn’t matter how hard you’re working if you’re not making progress.
  • Build Partnerships: To ensure we can provide excellent opportunities for all students, we have to improve our schools from the inside and the outside. That requires collaborating with nonprofit agencies, faith communities, and business partners.
More Leaders of 2018

Produced with support from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org

×
2015 Agenda

7:15 a.m.–8:00 a.m.
Networking Breakfast
Join for breakfast with leaders who work in the fields of most interest to you. There’ll be tables for parent engagement, school climate, ed tech, and more!

8:00 a.m.–8:25 a.m.
Welcome, Introductions, and Recognition Presentation
Recognition of the work of 8 of the 15—2015 Leaders To Learn From selected by Education Week.

8:25 a.m.–8:40 a.m.
Breakouts—Meet the Leaders
First 8 Leaders will go to their subject matter tables located throughout the room to discuss with attendees their “Focus of Strength” and to answer any questions attendees have. (Attendees will be encouraged to find their table of interest based on the map of the room provided in the program).

8:40 a.m.–9:10 a.m.
Recognition Presentation Concludes
Recognition of the work of our final 7 Leaders To Learn From.

9:10 a.m.–9:35 a.m
Breakouts—Meet the Leaders
Second group of Leaders will go to their subject matter tables located throughout the room to discuss with attendees their “Focus of Strength” and to answer any questions attendees have.

9:35 a.m.–10:05 a.m.
District Leader Snapshots
(A selection of 2015 Leaders will come to the stage with their reporters and discuss their “Focus of Strength.”)

10:05 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Midmorning Networking Break

10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
“Three Keys for Maximizing Leadership Impact”
Michael Fullan, education leadership author and expert, and former minister of education, Canada (2003–2013).

11:30 a.m.–12:00 a.m.
District Leader Snapshots
(A selection of 2015 Leaders will come to the stage with their reporters and discuss their “Focus of Strength”).

12:00 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.
“Ask the ED”
Join in a Department of Education Lightning Round featuring Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Deborah S. Delisle other Department of Education leadership who will take your questions.

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
Networking Luncheon
Uninterrupted time to mingle with those you’ve met at your tables and at the various tables set up throughout the room during our break-outs.

×