Ky. Baptist leads one of state’s best school systems

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GRAYSON, Ky. (KT) – It’s a good day to be the leader of Carter County schools in northeastern Kentucky.

Ronnie Dotson, a Kentucky Baptist and member of First Baptist Church in Grayson, is the man behind the success.

The humble Dotson takes no personal credit, but the school system has risen from being one of the worst in Kentucky to one of the best during his nine years at the helm.

“We have a great staff and they had a lot of success over the years,” Dotson said. “When you consider where we came from … it’s been a great journey. It certainly wasn’t an overnight fix.”

Carter County was one of two of 120 county school systems in Kentucky to receive a 4-star rating at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. The other school system was Boyle County in Danville. Less than 10 of the 170 schools overall in Kentucky achieved that level of efficiency.

Two of Carter County’s schools received a 5-star rating, the best the latest rating system offers.

“I wasn’t surprised. For the last several years we have been very high performing. It’s because we do things so differently here,” Dotson said. “Last year we had over 400 visitors come to see what we do here.” 

Dotson keeps constant communication with the principals and teachers in the system through leadership team sessions where best practices are reviewed and high expectations determined. They have done it for so long that they have put together a book on many of the research-based best practices.

“For instance, in teaching any content that has reading involved in it, we teach our teachers to divide into three sections – before you read, as you read and after you read. All the lesson plans are developed in that manner,” he said.

Not only has Carter County excelled in the classroom but this fall the football team is enjoying its best season in years and the boys’ soccer team made it to the state semifinals for the first time.

“I was real pleased about that,” Dotson said. “Having a good school system, it takes it all in. Lots of children stay in school because of sports and participating in those things. It’s always a lot more fun when you’re winning. I think the community would agree.”

He said the coaches in the school system, whether teams are winning or losing, are solid examples to the students.

“I can think of two of them (coaches) right off who have fostered children, and not for the purpose of them being great athletes,” he said. “We have a youth pastor who is an assistant coach at one school. I appreciate the kind of role models we have here with our coaches.”

Dotson is active in his church and served on the pulpit committee when Josh Schmidt was called as pastor. He previously served at First Baptist Church in Belfry where he and his wife, Judy, led the youth group and worked in the sound room.

Schmidt said Dotson and his wife are “committed Southern Baptists and FBC Grayson is thankful for their work both within the school system and the community. Ronnie has been a friend of Christians and Baptists in the Carter County school system.”

Dotson’s son, Jacob, is the church worship leader and his daughter-in-law Megan, sings in the praise band at FBC Grayson.

Dotson said he hasn’t been as active in Grayson as they were in Belfry because of the time involved in running a school system. He said he tries to “value every person” and uses Christian principals as he leads.

“I always try to treat people with respect no matter what the situation is and value every person,” he said.

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