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Dr. Kevin Ward reflects amid upcoming retirement

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT

“The luckiest man in the world” is a phrase Kevin Ward, director of Carter County Schools, used to describe himself with his position at the school system.

Ward said it dawned on him Thursday evening, as graduations for the Class of 2020 drew to a close, that his time with the school system is truly coming to an end.

“I was sitting there and it actually dawned on me that in a nontraditional format, this would be the last graduation in an official capacity,” he said. “It sort of hit home a little bit.”

He had announced his intentions to retire a year prior before ultimately deciding to stay on for one more year. He said you know when it’s time.

“You’ll know when it’s a good time,” he said. “Right now is a great time. It’s my time to go ahead and retire, I feel really good about it.”

Ward has worked in education for over 30 years becoming superintendent in 2012 after beginning work at the Central Office in 1999.

He previously worked for Hampton Elementary and Hampton High School. His first teaching position was in 1990.

As he reflected on his career with the school system, he said it feels bittersweet. He also said one of his favorite things was being able to get out of the office, and occasionally pop in at the schools.

Over the years he said the biggest thing was always focusing on improvement with students. He said the three main things important for kids to learn are feeling safe, being fed, and focusing.

When Ward spoke of his staff, those employed in the school system, board members, and even business owners, he could not give enough praise. He also wanted to say thank you.

“Looking back, I realize how lucky of a person and an individual I really am,” he said. “I’ve been able to work with a lot of great people, and get to know a lot of kids.”

He said his plans after retirement will involve projects.

One he wants to work toward is building small cabins. He explained that building and remodeling are some of his interests, noting that his dad was a carpenter.

While he will be retiring in the coming weeks, he said he will not become a stranger and wants to maintain friendships he has formed with those he worked alongside.

He also said he was proud of beginning and ending his career in Carter County, which is his home.

“I was a very lucky man to have had the opportunity to serve as a teacher, administrator, and director in Carter County Schools,” he said. “I love Carter County. As the director, I was the luckiest man in the world because I had some of the greatest people in the world to work with.”