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When Vine Grove Elementary School interim assistant principal Kerry Reeves walked the halls of Clarkson Elementary School in Grayson County in the late ’60s and early ’70s, it was as a student.
When he walked them in 1979, it was as a custodian.
When he walks them this fall, it will be as principal.
“I truly am going back home,” Reeves, 51, said.
He will work with teachers who were students at the elementary school when he was custodian.
The full-circle trip included stints with Hardin County Schools at Lynnvale Elementary School, Lakewood Elementary School and his current role at Vine Grove Elementary School.
But Reeves, who was born in Leitchfield, noted his journey had every possibility of taking a wrong turn.
“I had every reason not to turn out well,” Reeves said.
By the time he was 6, Reeves had lost both parents. His grandparents, who lived in Clarkson, adopted him and were major influences on him, especially his grandmother, who he called his “No. 1 role model.”
“She made a great life for me,” Reeves said, noting even though they were poor, he never felt like it.
Reeves attended Clarkson Elementary School and called his first-grade teacher, Luanna Anderson, his “favorite teacher of all time.” He remembers receiving a card from Anderson when he had to leave school because of his father’s death. Reeves had lost his mother about a year earlier.
In the card, Anderson offered words of support and told him she would be there for him when he returned to school.
“I still have that card,” he said.
Other educators helped Reeves, too. They ranged from elementary and middle school coaches, such as Albert Bell, Larry Darst and Leon Davis, to his high school FFA adviser, Marion Higgs, who he called his second favorite teacher.
“God blessed me with a lot of positive role models,” he said.
After graduating from high school in 1979, Reeves took a full-time job as a custodian at Clarkson Elementary School. He recalls giving high-fives to students throughout the day.
“That’s something I still do to this day,” he said.
While working full time, Reeves began attending classes on a part-time schedule at what was then Elizabethtown Community College. He did so for nine years before resigning from Hardin County Schools in 1991 to go to ECC full time, eventually receiving his teaching degree through Western Kentucky University.
Reeves was hired in the 1993-94 school year at Lynnvale Elementary and in 2003, he took a job as assistant principal at Lakewood Elementary, eventually becoming principal. By this time, his grandfather had died and his grandmother’s health was deteriorating.
In August 2011, he retired as principal at Lakewood.
“It was time to take care of the little lady who had taken care of me when I was a little 6-year-old boy,” Reeves said.
Though his grandmother died about a month later, Reeves is thankful for the time with her.
When the opportunity arose to work as an interim assistant principal, Reeves “jumped at the chance,” he said.
“I still feel I have so much to give,” he said.
Greg Sutton, Vine Grove Elementary School principal, said he was happy for Reeves getting his new job as principal at Clarkson Elementary, but is not happy to be losing him. Sutton said he and Reeves made a “great team.”
“We’ve had a great year,” Sutton said.
Reeves said it was a blessing to work at the Vine Grove school and he felt fully accepted by the school and community. As he departs from HCS, he expressed gratitude for having mentors and role models in the district.
Though his commute to work will shrink dramatically since he lives near Millerstown in Grayson County — just a mile and a half away from the home in which his grandparents raised him — his goal remains the same. He hopes to be the kind of role model to the students he will forever refer to as “his kids” as he got when he was growing up.
“If they’re happy and successful, then I’m a proud papa,” Reeves said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or email@example.com.
AN EDUCATION ON KERRY REEVES