Felicia Cumings Smith will join JCPS on October 9
Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Acting Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio has named Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith the new assistant superintendent of academic services. She will begin her service with the district on October 9.
Dr. Cumings Smith is a senior program officer of K–12 Education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, she has led portfolios focused on transforming state and district systems to improve college and career outcomes for students and leadership development. Prior to joining the foundation, she directed the Kentucky field work for the National Institute for School Leadership and the National Center for Education and the Economy. Dr. Cumings Smith served as an associate commissioner of education and chief academic officer for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) from 2009 to 2014. She led the work of three branches of KDE focused on improving teaching and learning opportunities for all students (preschool through college entry), professional learning for educators, and increasing teacher and leader effectiveness. Her experiences in the P–12, higher education, nonprofit, and philanthropic communities bring a wealth of expertise to the district.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Cumings Smith back home to JCPS, where she started her distinguished career in public education,” Dr. Pollio said. “Her entire career has been centered on a commitment to equity, increasing teacher capacity, engaging students through project-based learning, and focusing on the fundamentals of literacy as a foundation for lifelong learning. Dr. Cumings Smith’s work will help move JCPS forward in becoming a model for deeper learning and student engagement.”
Dr. Cumings Smith previously served as the executive director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development at the University of Kentucky (UK), where she led a multi-million-dollar center focused on research and professional development in literacy education for early childhood through adulthood. Additionally, she was a part of the faculty in the teacher preparation program focused on literacy education.
“I am thrilled about joining the team Dr. Pollio is assembling in JCPS,” Dr. Cumings Smith said. “My career began here, and I have always believed I would return in some capacity to help accelerate improvement in the district. The Board and Dr. Pollio’s vision and priorities on deeper learning, building professional capacity, and improving culture and climate are bold and ambitious. The work under way is a great match for my passion and expertise. I’m committed to working collaboratively, and I look forward to partnering with district and school staff, community leaders, and the many other stakeholders invested in the success of JCPS. A thriving community is dependent on a successful school district.”
Dr. Cumings Smith started her career as an elementary and reading resource teacher in JCPS, where she helped design and lead curriculum work in literacy and formative assessment benchmarks. She holds an Ed.D. in Instruction and Administration from UK, a Master of Education, K–12 Reading Specialist, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Louisville.