Wesley Hammond attended his first high school basketball game at two weeks old when his mother brought him to a game that his father coached. That kickstarted a love for small-town schools and events which continues to this day. Entering his third full year as Eminence Community Schools superintendent, Hammond can regularly be found at school events and in the audience at extracurricular activities.
FAMILY TIES TO EDUCATION AND ADMINISTRATION
Hammond has been in education since 1977 – 46 years – and administration since 1987. A life of education runs in the family. Hammond’s father, James Hammond, was a school teacher and administrator: the first principal at Cascade High School in 1964-65 and the first principal at South Putnam High School in 1969-70. Having seen the impact his father made, Hammond decided to follow in his footsteps, as did his siblings for a time. Hammond’s own three children are now educators as well. He started out as a school teacher and coach before he attended Eastern Kentucky University to get his administrative license.
“When you’re a teacher in a classroom, you have that direct contact with your students,” Hammond said. “You know them, you can interact with them and make a difference with each of those individual students. You get pretty close to them because you see them every day. But as a principal I thought I could affect every kid in my building and every teacher. It’s not as close of a relationship, but it’s a relationship that might bring a greater benefit to all of the kids.”
He worked his way up from assistant principal, to principal, to superintendent at a number of rural and small-town schools. The largest school district he worked for, North Montgomery, had just over 2,000 students. He most recently worked for South Henry School Corporation, a district with 750-800 kids in grades K through 12. Eminence has around 300, graduating 32 seniors this spring semester.
“I always like working in the rural areas because that’s where I grew up,” he said. “Dad did the same thing. He said kids at Superintendent Wesley Hammond works toward continued improvement for Eminence Community Schools South Putnam need an education just as much. And I’ve always thought that way.”
For 10 years, he would work at South Henry and drive to his home in Putnam County on the weekends. That drive grew tiresome so he made the decision to leave. With perfect timing, the position at Eminence opened up, much closer to home.
A GOOD REPUTATION
Having grown up nearby, Hammond has had a lot of interaction with the Eminence community since he was young. He liked that the school system had a good reputation as a strong academic school as a rural school. The school system was in good financial shape and its facilities were well- maintained. There is also a strong show of community support. The community had recently passed its second education fund referendum in less than a decade, allowing for an increase in teachers’ salaries.
“Our teacher salaries are pretty much in line with school corporations to the west of us,” Hammond said. “It’s harder to compete with the Mooresvilles, the Plainfields, but we’re paying our teachers a competitive wage and we’ve been able to increase those salaries significantly the last few years.”
Safety is also a top priority, and something Eminence has done well on, Hammond said. There are school resource officers on location every day. They work closely with the Morgan County Sheriff ’s Department to help make the school safer. For the last 20 years, they’ve maintained a secure entrance where visitors must buzz in to enter the building and once they’ve entered, they can’t go anywhere except the front office. Staff are trained in Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) protocols which are steps followed in the event that there is a threat at school.Read the Full September 2023 Edition Here