Foster Academy principal Robert Gunn tapped to lead Byck Element - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Foster Academy principal Robert Gunn tapped to lead Byck Elementary School

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Foster Traditional Academy principal Robert Gunn was named the principal of Byck Elementary School on Tuesday (WDRB file photo) Foster Traditional Academy principal Robert Gunn was named the principal of Byck Elementary School on Tuesday (WDRB file photo)
Byck Elementary School Byck Elementary School

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The principal of Foster Traditional Academy has been named the new principal at Byck Elementary School by Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens.

Robert Gunn, who has been principal at Foster since 2012, replaces Tamara Darden, who accepted a job as a specialist in the district's human resources department shortly before winter break, but has continued at Byck while the district searched for a new principal.

"I saw the opening at Byck and something in my heart told me that is where I need to be, almost like a higher calling," he told WDRB News on Tuesday. "I know exactly what I am getting into...I want to help move the school out of priority status and help the students there achieve better."

Gunn said he plans to hit the ground running and meet with staff as soon as possible.

Jennifer Brislin, a JCPS spokeswoman, said the change was announced Tuesday and is effective Monday, Jan. 23. Hargens had the authority the name Gunn because the authority of Byck's site-based council was disbanded by the state last year.

Darden been the principal at Byck since 2007 and was the subject of a leadership assessment in 2016 after Byck was named one of Kentucky's lowest performing schools and was added to the state's priority school list in 2015.

"Mr. Gunn is a seasoned educator who promotes excellence in students and staff alike," Hargens said. "His enthusiasm for learning will be a true asset for Byck Elementary."

The diagnostic review of Byck conducted by the Kentucky Department of Education found that student performance data did not suggest that school personnel used data to monitor continuous school improvement, student learning, instructional practices and programmatic/organizational effectivenes.

Classroom observation data also revealed that highly effective instructional practices were not consistently implemented across the school.

Despite the findings, Darden was found to have the capacity to lead the school's turnaround efforts.

However, test scores dropped again during the 2015-16 year and show that only 13 percent of students were proficient in reading, 24 percent were proficient in math and 9 percent were proficient in writing.

Gunn has been with JCPS since 2005. He graduated in 2002 from Earlham College, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He received his first master's degree in teaching from Lindenwood University and received his second master's in instructional leadership and administration from Bellarmine University.

Gunn and his wife, Lacey, have two children.

Brislin said the search for a new principal at Foster will begin immediately.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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