Dr. Jon Rysewyk named next KCS superintendent

By Ken Lay

Knox County Schools has a new superintendent. He’s a familiar face in the district’s central office.

The Knox County Board of Education has selected Dr. Jon Rysewyk as the school system’s next superintendent.

The board voted, 6-2, to confirm Rysewyk as the replacement for Bob Thomas, who will retire in June after more than five years as KCS superintendent.

Board members Susan Horn, Kristi Kristy, Mike McMillan, Virginia Babb, Betsy Henderson and Patti Bounds voted for Rysewyk, who has been with KCS for more than two decades as an intern, teacher, school administrator and district administrator. He currently serves as an assistant superintendent and is KCS’s chief academic officer.

Daniel Watson and Evetty Satterfield, the chair of the search committee, voted for Dr. Linda Cash, the other finalist, who is director of schools in Bradley County.

Board member Jennifer Owen voted for neither candidate and said that the position should be reopened to new candidates.

She attempted to alter her vote (in favor of Rysewyk) after he’d already been confirmed.

She recanted after McMillan objected, saying, “You had the same chance that we all did to vote for Dr. Rysewyk, and you didn’t.”

Rysewyk, who will be offered a contract in March and will officially take over as superintendent on July 1, said he was honored and humbled to have the opportunity to be KCS’s next superintendent.

“It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to serve the people of Knox County, and particularly for me, the students in Knox County,” said Rysewyk, who served as an intern at Bearden High School in 1999, “I’m humbled.

“This is my community. This is where my wife and I have raised our two daughters. This is where I want to be. This is where my career has been.”

The search for Thomas’ replacement began during the fall semester when he announced that he would retire in June, after being superintendent since 2017.

The position had 18 applicants and was narrowed down to Rysewyk and Cash recently.

Kristy, who serves as the board of education chair, said that the two finalists were top-notch candidates.

“Both were highly qualified, but the board did decide Dr. Rysewyk would be our next superintendent of Knox County Schools,” Kristy said. “He is a team builder.”

Satterfield said she voted for Cash because she was impressed by her student-centered focus.

“Dr. Cash rose to the top and that is why she received my vote,” said Satterfield, who serves as the board’s co-chair as well as chairing the search committee, which also consisted of Bounds and Henderson. “I believe that she has a very student-centered focus and I wish her the best in all of her journey.

“I don’t know if there was anyone who had their minds made up because we didn’t know any of the candidates, so after the roll out of the candidates, Jon Rysewyk rose to the top.”

Rysewyk promised to put students and teachers first and said that he also learned from Thomas over the past five years.

“The biggest thing about Bob Thomas is his heart,” Rysewyk said. “He has a heart for kids and he’s humble. He’ll talk to me.

“He really taught me how to listen.”