James Slaven took the helm of Cedar Grove Elementary School July 1.
“Being named the principal at CGES is an honor and one I take very seriously,” Slaven remarked. “I have spent 9 years as an assistant principal learning from two of the best principals anyone could work for and I am anxious to get to work with our staff and our students.”
Slaven has been LaRue County Middle School Assistant Principal since 2014. A year prior, he worked at LaRue County High School as an Algebra 1 Teacher, Assistant Athletic Director and four seasons as Girls Basketball Head Coach.
He chose to apply for the Cedar Grove position based on several factors.
“I have two young children and I have become increasingly curious about the elementary years and how vital they are for the development of our kids,” he noted. “This is where I feel like I could assist a staff and make the biggest impact for students.
Cedar Grove was the only elementary school position he applied for and the only one he wanted after researching the school, staff and district.
“It became apparent to me that this is a place where we can succeed in doing what is best for kids and helping them grow each year and develop a love for coming to school,” he said.
Slaven feels confident after investing time as an assistant principal there are few aspects of running a school with which he has not been involved.
“I tell people every year who want to chase a promotion that we often feel as though we aren’t ready…if you wait until you feel ready, you’ve missed the moment,” he affirmed. “I am excited about this opportunity and I will be leaning heavily on our CGES staff and our BCPS staff to get acclimated to this new position.”
Slaven said his first priority in transitioning from LaRue to Bullitt County is getting to know the school staff, community and the needs for kids.
He and all school staff are keenly aware of the current coronavirus pandemic, how it affected the 2019-2020 school year and what reopening facilities may look like.
“With COVID 19 still impacting our schools, it is imperative that we prepare for what this may mean when we hopefully get to open schools in the fall,” he said.
School professionals rarely look at days…they study moments of learning and the importance of each instructional minute.
Slaven will focus on, “What we do to grow our kids every year, both as students and people. Education is about much more than reading scores and we are focused on educating the whole child.”
He feels there are many pressing issues for educators today that make this profession much more difficult than the one he entered in the fall of 1997.
“Among these are COVID 19 unknowns (opening day, budgetary restraints, health concerns, etc.), the increased number of social and family issues that impact a kid’s ability to learn and making sure our staff has the supports they need to effectively do their jobs,” he said.
Slaven is a proud alum of Wayne County High School Class of 1989 (Go Cards!) He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Grades Education (math/social studies). He received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership (administration) from Western Kentucky University in 2003 and a Rank I from the University of the Cumberlands in 2014.
His first teaching experience was in a math classroom during the 1997-1998 school year at Noe Middle School followed by five years in Allen County-Scottsville as an eighth grade reading/seventh grade math/Algebra I at the high school level; Head basketball coach – boys middle school basketball/Head Coach – Varsity Cross Country.
Slaven spent the next decade at North Hardin High School working as a teacher in Algebra I/Math Intervention, then as an Assistant Principal for three years, an Athletic Director for four years, and four seasons as Head Girls Basketball Coach
He is proud to note he was the first person in his immediate and extended family to graduate from high school.
“My parents always had that expectation for me and I can see clearly now that education has helped me break the cycle of poverty in my life,” he reflected. “I am by no means wealthy but compared to what my parents and grandparents had, I can see that they provided the basis for me to live a fuller and secure life and therefore, my kids are living that life as well. I owe it all to education and I want others to see that you don’t have to be the richest or smartest kid in town to succeed and build a better life.”
Throughout his educational career, Slaven has encountered students and adults considering the field as a career.
His advice is “Be prepared to work harder than you thought you could and to deal with people and situations that you never envisioned you would get to deal with.”
But also it brings more rewards than we all deserve,” he continued. “Lifelong friendships, relationships with mentors/mentees and the ability to watch young people grow and succeed are just some of the blessings I have been given in my career.”
Slaven’s greatest gifts are his kids. “I have two children and they are the light in my life. Jameson Dean Slaven will start kindergarten this year. He will be 6 years old in July. Lorelai Noelle Slaven is two and will be returning to her preschool/daycare she attended last year. We enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities but my favorite is golf. Both kids like to play and we are all learning together and it’s my hope that it becomes a game that we can play together for years to come,” he said.