Know Every Student...

By Name and Need is Donald Shively's Philosophy

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For Donald Shively, superintendent of Paducah Public Schools, teaching is more than a career; it’s a calling. A third-generation teacher, Shively credits his mother and grandmothers with the inspiration to teach. “Growing up with those role models, you see the impact you can have on other people, how you can meet their needs, encourage and inspire, and change lives,” Shively explains. “I feel called to do that.”

Shively has been an educator since 1997, when he started his career at Paducah Tilghman High School teaching chemistry and physics. Later, his work in academics took him to Ballard Memorial High School and eventually to become an assistant superintendent. Now, as the superintendent of the Paducah Public Schools, he brings a fresh perspective to the district.

“I’m the first superintendent they’ve hired from within the school district. That gives me a very unique perspective of our district. It gives me a well-rounded view of what we need to do to improve by building on the tradition of excellence,” Shively says. And this year, as Paducah celebrates 150 years of public education, he’s energized to do just that.

His philosophy moving forward is simple: “know every child by name and need.”

To achieve this, he believes in a team approach to constant improvement led by inspiring teachers and staff. As a team, the district must meet the needs of each and every child, no matter where they are, Shively explains. It’s not just vital to the schools, but to the community.

“Our school district is a mirror image of our community,” Shively continues. “It values education, extra-curricular activities, and the arts. We’ve always valued a well-rounded person. We’ve got a lot of great kids that are focused on excelling.”

shively and students

In the high school, this involves implementing a capstone project that places students with local businesses for internships. Shively is an advocate for this program because among its many advantages is the increased chance of graduates returning to Paducah to join the workforce. He observes that there is a correlation between a strong school system and a strong economy.

“If we can get those kids building relationships with business partners in the community, it’s my hope that they will then go on to do internships which will give us a better chance of bringing those kids back [after graduation and college],” Shively says. The economic benefits are obvious, but Shively sees more than that. He believes it’s an effort that will strengthen the community as a whole. Therefore, the district must ensure it has the workforce to meet the needs of Paducah, he says.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without a great team, Shively says. “We have a tremendous staff that is committed to meeting the needs of each and every child,” he continues. “I’m constantly impressed by the talent in our teaching staff and the heart of all our employees.” With such dedication and heart throughout the district, Shively’s vision moving forward is clear: “to meet the needs of the community and build the type of citizens Paducah needs.”