Superintendent Matt Moore reflects on long career as retirement date approaches 

Published 11:14 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

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After a seven-year tenure, Jessamine County Schools Superintendent Matt Moore is ready to step down from his more-than-two-decade-long career. 


Moore’s last day is June 30, 2024. His successor is Sara Crum, who will begin on July 1, 2024.

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Moore’s career has been a huge part of his life, especially because he said professions within education can easily be “all consuming” since education is so “critical to our communities and so critical to the lives of the students.”  


As a student at the University of Kentucky, Moore actually started out as a business major. But, when he reflects on his career, he said he’s glad that he went the way he did. 


Moore pursued business for a year and a half, but that all changed after a 14-hour practicum in Lafayette High School in Lexington. He knew he needed to switch gears. 


“I really figured out, this is what I was supposed to be doing. I got to connect with a really strong teacher, I got to see the work that she was doing in the classroom and that just convinced me that that was the thing that I was supposed to be doing in life,” Moore said.


After college, Moore started his career in Jessamine County at Rosenwald-Dunbar Elementary School.  During that time, he coached for the Jessamine County High School boys’ soccer team. After his third year, Moore moved to Nicholasville Elementary, teaching for five years before spending his last year in the classroom at The Providence School.


“I was never really looking to move out of the classroom because I always had fun doing it and I looked forward to going to school everyday and connecting with the kids,” Moore said.


During his last year as a teacher, Moore was encouraged to apply for the position of director of special education. 


“Initially, I was pretty reluctant because I was enjoying my job so much but after a little bit of persuasion from a couple people that I really respected, I committed to that position for two years with the understanding that if the leadership thing didn’t seem like the right fit, I would transition back to the classroom,” Moore said. 


But, the position ended up being the right fit for Moore, and from then on, his career went through the progression of leadership roles. 


Moore’s career overlapped with his time at the Kentucky National Guard.


 “During almost my entire career I was connected with the Kentucky National Guard. I was a field artillery officer there for 24 years. I did that as a weekend commitment. So I had a pretty busy schedule,” he said.


Before becoming superintendent, Moore served five years as the deputy superintendent. “During my second year as deputy superintendent I also served three months as the interim superintendent and that’s when they hired Kathy Fields,” he said.


After Kathy Fields, Moore was chosen to be the next superintendent, and has had a longer tenure than is typically spent in the chaotic role. 


Moore said the position is like being the manager for the school district, keeping connected with students, and guardians and “making sure the mission and vision thats been established turns into actionable goals and activities that continue to move our students and our school district forward.”


In his time working for the district, Moore is proud of what the district has accomplished.


“The one thing that I would say that I’m most proud of is the high quality education. I think that Jessamine County does an excellent job of moving our students forward academically. We have lots of evidence that suggests that. We do assessments three times a year in reading and math for Kindergarten through eighth-grade and it’s just so exciting to see our students on average grow over a school year’s worth of growth in a single year. The other thing that I think we do really well is teach to the whole child. We don’t just focus on the academic piece but we really want our students to transition into the next level of learning or into that next job experience or into adulthood where they’re working for their families, their children, and so on with some soft skills. The other thing, the third thing that I think Jessamine county has done really well is that we’ve connected with the community and when I say community it’s not just Jessamine County, it’s at the state and national level to understand what our students are supposed to be equipped with. I love that we have invested so much into career and technical education because I feel like it does give our students in Jessamine County an extra step ahead of some of these others,” Moore said. 


He further explained.


“We had a professor from UK come and visit our engineering department last year and he said we were doing things in Jessamine County that he didn’t get to do until his junior year of college. So I love the fact that our students do get exposed to and challenged on collegiate levels,” Moore said. 


Moore said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the encouragement and support he received. 


“The people who I’m most thankful for that have really guided me definitely start with my wife, Celeste Moore. She’s been incredibly supportive of me. She’s encouraged me to do the things I feel like I should be doing and she helps me process a lot of stuff. I have to give a big shout out to Dr. Lou Young who is now on the Kentucky School Board Association but she was a superintendent here and she was my direct supervisor for 13 years. She’s the one that really did encourage me to get my superintendent’s certification and she just had a lot of faith in me and I appreciate that very much so,” he said. “Also, just the team of people I work with most frequently at the central office. I think we have very dedicated people who take their jobs very seriously. I feel like there is that strong mindset here that our positions exist so that we can support the students out in all of the schools.”


Jessamine County Board of Education Chairman Steven Scrivner, became emotional when speaking about Superintendent Moore’s retirement. 


Scrivner joined the board in January 2019. So much of his experience with Moore was colored by his two and a half to three years of meetings with a lot of discussion surrounding COVID-19.  


“I have said to so many others… our school district could not have had a better leader during that critical time because he truly in all times and in all discussions, kept the focus on student safety, teacher safety, staff safety, and doing the best job we could to keep students moving forward and provide them with the resources to do so. He is a compassionate person, he is so supportive of our teachers, he’s just been wonderful to work with. As the school board, we do his evaluation every year as required by state law and he consistently scores at the upper levels when it comes to respect from those he deals with, his communication style, and people just rave about what a good leader he is. But we’ve just been fortunate to have him for seven years. He’s done a remarkable job in building upon what has started before him and he’s handing the district to Sara Crum in great shape,” Scrivner said. 


Moore said he is ready to move on to the next phase of his life.


“I’m at that point where I just really need to reconnect to some of those things that I value (in my personal life). I think it is getting to spend more time with my wife and family, getting to connect more with friends, getting to do some of the things that I like doing on my own personal time. Fishing is one of those that come to mind. I do like the idea of doing the same things I always do at home but not being rushed as much,” Moore said.


Like so many other educators, Moore said he may one day be back in a smaller role one day. 


“I don’t know what my next steps are in life but I still want to have purpose and I hope that I can still be connected to education in some way. I would love to do something in a type of part time status,” he said.