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An award-winning educator who was inducted four years ago into the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni is returning to campus to lead Model Laboratory School.

John Williamson, a 1990 EKU graduate, has been selected to serve as superintendent of the Commonwealth’s only laboratory school. He will transition into the post over the next several weeks.

For the past six years, Williamson has held leadership positions with The College Board, a not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Most recently he served as vice president of AP (Advanced Placement) curriculum, instruction and assessment. From 2007 until 2012, the Pikeville native served as superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools in northern Kentucky after serving as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning there from 1999 to 2007.

During his tenure as superintendent, Fort Thomas was the highest performing K-12 school district in the Commonwealth and completed a $20 million high school renovation project and a $15 million elementary school construction project. In 2006, he was one of just 13 nationally to receive the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Emerging Leader Award. Two years later, he was recognized as one of 40 Up and Coming Leaders Under 40 by the Business Courier of Greater Cincinnati. He was inducted into EKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2014.

“A great school deserves a great leader, and John Williamson has the broad experience and the passion for excellence that will take Model Laboratory School to even greater heights,” said EKU President Michael Benson. “Having watched with pride as his career blossomed, we are delighted to welcome such a distinguished educator to our leadership team, and confident that the best days are ahead for Model.” 

Williamson is excited to return to his home state, his alma mater and a school that has earned national recognition for excellence, ranking among the top 2 percent of high schools nationwide, according to Newsweek, and always among the state leaders on various measures.

He said his first priority would be to listen to Model teachers, staff, parents and students.

“We’re about teaching students in our care and providing a world-class education,” Williamson said, “but at the same time, making Model a center of innovation for the region, state and even the nation. This should be a place people come from all over the country to learn about best teaching practices and strategies. I look forward to helping lead educational innovation at EKU and Model Lab in these challenging, yet exciting times by identifying and implementing practices and programs that provide even greater opportunities for student success and professional learning.”

Williamson said he would work to better integrate Model with every academic college of the University and strengthen partnerships between the school and the K-12 educational community throughout the region and Commonwealth.

Model’s new superintendent earned a bachelor’s degree in English from EKU before going on to earn a master’s degree in English and Rank I in superintendent, supervisor of K-12 instruction and principal from Morehead State University. He later added an Ed.M. degree in educational leadership from Columbia University.

After graduating from EKU, Williamson joined the faculty at Johnson Central (Kentucky) High School, where he served as an English and language arts teacher and as coordinator of public relations, writing resource teacher, assistant principal and curriculum director. Before moving to Fort Thomas, he also served as a curriculum specialist with the Kentucky Department of Education and director of instruction, teaching and learning with Montgomery County Schools.

“I was only able to have the career that I’ve had because of the quality of education I received at EKU and elsewhere,” Williamson said. “Now, I want to give back to the region, and share what I have learned.

“It’s good to be home.”

Established more than a century ago on the Eastern campus, Model Laboratory School educates 725 students from pre-K through 12th grade while providing field experiences for EKU students and demonstrating evidence-based strategies. Laura Dedic serves as director of the secondary level and Carrie Ballinger of the elementary level (N-5).