Dotson at computer

Carter County School Supt. Ronnie A. Dotson believes in technology as a learning tool. His district currently provides 3,400 electronic devices for its 4,700 students. “Our goal is to acquire enough for everyone,” he says. (Photo by Cory Claxon)

When Ronnie A. Dotson came to Carter County in July 2011 to become the school superintendent, he said he would do his best to lead the school district to improved student test scores, higher career and college readiness results, improved physical facilities and more pride in the schools.

He said he wanted to institute the practice of goal-setting by students, staff and faculty members.

When the school board renewed his contract last July for another four years, the unanimous vote meant he had achieved all or most of what he had promised.

Over the last three years the superintendent spent most of his Saturdays and Sunday afternoons working on the requirements for a doctoral degree in education at Morehead State University.

He focused his studies on the question of whether goal setting could help students achieve better skills in reading. In fact, he wrote his dissertation on that topic and the impact it had made in Carter County.

Dotson finished his degree requirements earlier this year but doesn’t make a big fuss about being addressed as “Dr. Dotson.”

Doctoral degrees are popular in the Dotson family after his son, Jacob, graduated from Marshall University last weekend with a doctorate in pharmacology.

Ronnie credits his wife, Judy, and their son and daughter-in-law with helping him stay committed to achieving the goal of a terminal degree, the top credential in education.

“They helped me stay focused on my goal and it was a big factor along the way,” Dotson recalls.

He says he is proud of his accomplishment but even prouder of what has happened in the Carter County Schools in the last five years.

“Our academic success has just been amazing and our students and teachers and support staff deserve all of the credit,” he says. “We’ve climbed from the bottom 10 percent to the top seven percent and many of our teachers are featured on the KDE website for their instructional success.”

Dotson noted that 150 administrators, teachers and staff members from other school districts across the state visited Carter County this school year to observe what is happening in classrooms and laboratories.

A former school principal in Pike County, Dotson came to Carter County after leading Southside Elementary to being named a Blue Ribbon School with test scores in the top five elementary schools in the state. 

Will becoming “Dr. Dotson” change him or any of his goals for the district?

“No, I’m still the same person. I’m proud that I learned a great deal from my professors that I am sharing with our staff. We can never afford to stop learning.”

After 28 years in the public schools, he says he realizes that it is never too late to apply hard work and persistence to a worthwhile goal.

Keith Kappes can be reached at or by telephone at 800-247-6142.

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