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New KCS superintendent to prioritize student success, career empowerment in district

Dr. Jon Rysewyk said he is committed to putting students at the center and released a plan to create regional teams to better serve the district.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Knox County Schools' new superintendent, Dr. Jon Rysewyk, announced his priorities and plans for the district on Tuesday after officially stepping into the position on June 4.

In a release from the district, Rysewyk said he is committed to putting students at the center of every decision and has identified four key priorities to accomplish that goal:

  • Excellence in foundational skills, particularly early literacy and middle-school math
  • Providing great educators in every school
  • Career empowerment and preparation
  • Success for every student. 

"We can't just keep doing the same thing we've been doing," said Dr. Rysewyk. "We're going to get the same results."

He also announced a plan to realign the district’s Central Office and foster stronger connections with the communities served by the district. 

This will include the creation of five regional teams that are each comprised of a regional director and regional supervisor, according to the release. One of those leaders will have elementary experience and the other will have secondary experience. 

"It will really make us think globally for students from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade," Dr. Rysewyk said. "We need high school principals thinking about third grade literacy, and we need elementary school principals thinking about high school graduation."

Each team will also include leaders with expertise in various content areas, according to KCS. The five regions will be based on feeder patterns and geographic proximity. 

As part of the realignment, the district said it will create five assistant superintendents:

  • The Assistant Superintendent of Academics will include oversight of Learning and Literacy, Academic Supports, College and Career Readiness and Regions 1 through 4
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Business and Talent will oversee HR and the Chief Financial Officer
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Student Success will oversee functions including English Language Learning, Health Services, School Culture, Special Education and Region 5
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Operations will oversee functions including Security, Transportation, and Maintenance
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Strategy will oversee Communications; Research, Evaluation and Assessment (REA); and ESSER programming 

Rysewyk said he supports having armed security officers in schools. 

"In any leadership or crisis situation, I think what's most important is the trained professionals who make those decisions," Dr. Rysewyk said. "For that reason, I do support our officers in schools." 

Dr. Rysewyk said he sees officers interacting with students and their parents during school. He previously served as the district’s assistant superintendent and chief academic officer.

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