LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A longtime educator has been named the new assistant superintendent of academic services in Jefferson County Public Schools.

Felicia Cumings Smith, who is currently a senior program officer of K–12 Education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will start her new job in Louisville on Oct. 9. She replaces Karen Branham, who resigned from JCPS last month, and will make $157,567.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Cumings Smith back home to JCPS, where she started her distinguished career in public education,” said JCPS Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio, in a statement. “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."

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. 

Prior to her work at the Gates Foundation, she directed the Kentucky field work for the National Institute for School Leadership and the National Center for Education and the Economy. She also served as an associate commissioner of education and chief academic officer for the Kentucky Department of Education from 2009 to 2014. 

“I am thrilled about joining the team Dr. Pollio is assembling in JCPS,” Cumings Smith said in a statement. “My career began here, and I have always believed I would return in some capacity to help accelerate improvement in the district. 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."

Cumings Smith earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville and her doctorate from the University of Kentucky.

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