Six years ago, Jason Kupchella was a high school math teacher at Greenwood. He’s now the first chief academic officer for Warren County Public Schools and entering his 23rd year in public education.
Kupchella, 45, is in charge of all facets of curriculum and instruction in the sixth-largest public school district in Kentucky. Assistant Superintendent Kathy Goff was previously named chief operations officer for the district. The two are directly under Superintendent Rob Clayton in a new organizational approach in the county schools district.
Kupchella will leave his current post as principal of Briarwood Elementary School. The 1987 Warren Central High School graduate received his bachelor’s degree in middle grades education and later his Rank 1 certification from Western Kentucky University. He brings five years of experience in middle schools, 11 in high schools and six in elementary schools to the table.
Terry Cook will serve as interim principal at Briarwood. He previously was principal at South Warren High School. The Site-Based Decision-Making Council at Briarwood met Thursday to review applications for the principal position.
Kupchella said the biggest challenge in getting children to learn is to bypass all the distractions in their lives.
“Kids today have so many things to do,” Kupchella said. Additionally, economic and family issues can keep kids from being able to focus in school. “You could have an unhappy home, there could be poverty.”
One of Kupchella’s goals is to bring a level of academic excellence districtwide.
“We have to do more,” he said.
Recently, principals throughout the district named teachers to a committee to work on educational standards this summer.
“We have ‘pockets of excellence’ in the district. Now, the goal is to bring up other schools to those high levels,” Kupchella said.
In naming Kupchella, Clayton pointed to Briarwood becoming one of 101 Lighthouse Schools in the international The Leader In Me program.
The Seven Habits of The Leader In Me are incorporated into a program with specific benchmarks and goals, which is reviewed by FranklinCovey, which provides The Leader In Me training. Briarwood met Lighthouse School program goals and was named a Lighthouse School during the 2013-14 school year.
“Mr. Kupchella has demonstrated strong instructional leadership at Briarwood Elementary, and I have full confidence in his ability to lead our instructional department in an exemplary manner to ensure high-quality instruction, assessment and evaluation in every classroom across our district. His passion for the success of all students is fundamental to the vision and mission of WCPS,” Clayton said in a statement.
The importance of education was present in Kupchella’s family. His father, Charles, is a former president of the University of North Dakota. His wife Stacy is a seventh-grade language arts instructor at Drakes Creek Middle School. Their children, Griffin, 10, and Julia, 8, attend Briarwood. Kupchella’s father and mother Adele live in Ebensburg, Pa., outside State College. Charles Kupchella also was a dean at WKU.
Kupchella is a former girls’ basketball coach at Bowling Green High School and Warren East Middle School. At 6 feet 7 inches tall, the newest central office administrator may be the tallest educator in Warren County.
He said getting students to use the benefits of educational technology while still understanding the problem-solving processes in solving math equations and other problems is a challenge. Today, kids can tap their cellphones or iPads and find the answer to just about anything. But, can they explain how the answer was arrived at?
“As a math teacher, I always made them show their work,” he said.
Another important approach is establishing relationships with each student. School is a pathway to their future.
“At every level, we want the child to reach their potential, no matter what that potential is,” Kupchella said.