Joseph Cosby has been chosen as the new principal at the Allen County-Scottsville High School. Cosby steps in to oversee the 930-student school, succeeding Shane Davis who has stepped aside to become the Director of Safety and Support Services for the Allen County School District. In addition, Cosby will also continue to serve as the administrator for the Allen County Career and Technical Center (ACCTC).
“One of the reasons that I applied for this job is that I know what this school can be,” Cosby noted. “I graduated from this school. We have a good thing going on. We can improve and build on the good things we have going. There’s not going to be a great big overhaul. I have good teachers and students and we need to build on that. I want to be consistent so I am not going to overhaul everything. We can build and improve on what’s working.”
Cosby’s goal is that AC-S’s students and staff embrace a school where learning is enhanced daily.
“I want to build a school with a culture of learning rather than just focus on test scores,” Cosby said. “When academics are number one, test scores will take care of themselves. We have excellent teachers at the high school and excellent teachers at the Tech Center. I want to strive on building their capacity. I want our teachers to have training and up-to-date technology that will help improve instruction in the classroom. We also have students that can make our school really good.”
Cosby moves into the principal’s chair at the high school after two years as the director of the ACCTC. The rise to the leadership position at AC-SH cumulates a 26-year educational journey for the 1991 AC-SH graduate. His path to principal includes 10 years of life experience as a diesel mechanic. His automotive career led to his entrance into education and fulfilling a long-time dream that began with Cosby’s own experience as a student in auto shop classes in the old Allen County Vocational School in the early 1990s.
“When I was in high school, I had Michael McClure for automotive classes,” Cosby explained. “I would always aggravate him and say, ‘when you get ready to retire, I want you job.’ He would laugh and say you don’t want this job. He actually stayed true to his word because he always said if he ever decided to leave, I would be the first to know. So in August of 2001, I was working at Bluegrass Truck and Trailer as a diesel mechanic and sales. Mr. McClure came in and said he had just resigned. So 10 minutes after he told me that, I left work and went to the Board of Education and applied.”
Cosby was able to apply for the position based on Kentucky Department of Education guidelines for technical education---guidelines which allow years of experience in a technical field (such as automotive technology, industrial technology, health sciences, or computer-aided drafting) to substitute for classroom-based teacher training. Cosby’s extensive background in auto mechanics met the necessary requirements. After going through the application and interview process, Cosby was hired. On December 10, 2001, Cosby walked into auto shop as the new instructor.
“They handed me the keys and I more-or-less jumped in with both feet,” Cosby said. “The kids had been in the classroom with a sub for a couple of months so they were excited to be able to get in the shop.”
Cosby began helping students learn engine repair and maintenance. In addition, he also became a student again. First, Cosby earned a degree in Career and Technical Education and later a Masters in Vocational Education. Cosby also has a Masters in Teacher Leadership and, most recently, completed his Kentucky’s principal certification endorsement. Currently, Cosby is working to obtain a superintendent’s endorsement.
Cosby’s time in the shop opened his eyes to the needs of today’s students---including the students’ need to learn about the multiple opportunities available for high school graduates with have training in technical education.
“I see the demographics of the students we have in school in Allen County,” Cosby explained in an interview in June 2015. “Not all of our students are going to go to a four-year college. A lot of the students don’t know what exists out in the world in terms of higher technical education. They think that they will just go into factory work. The Allen County Career and Technical Center gives students the opportunities to learn and discover career options. I have had students not knowing what they wanted to do as sophomores who leave as seniors and go into the automotive field or welding field. I have others that have gone onto colleges like Lincoln Tech or Nashville Auto-Diesel. The students learn about opportunities.”
Cosby is excited about his new role and looks forward to building upon the exciting things already in place at AC-SH. The new principal feels that his leadership experience as a nine-year department head and a five-year teacher representative on the high school’s Site-Base Council has helped prepare him to lead the school forward.
“I am more of a servant-leader,” Cosby said. “How can I help make you better is what I will ask. That is my plan. I want to create a school of transparency.”
Cosby’s ideas include improving the school’s culture, building upon the school’s vision and mission, enlisting more parent volunteers, and enhancing AC-SH’s involvement in the community.
“I’m hoping to build a guiding coalition team,” Cosby explained. “It would have school members, teachers, and community professionals. If we have a shared vision and mission, everyone has a sense of ownership in our school. That’s one thing I want to build. Our high school is the center of Allen County.”
Cosby’s first weeks on the job will center on hiring new staff members. Currently, vacancies exist in English, Science, Exceptional Child Education, and Business. Cosby will also be working with the school’s counselors on finalizing schedules and interacting with current assistant principals Wes Pardue and Chris Vernon to further plan for the arrival of students on Thursday, August 10.