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Spalding hosts celebration of JCPS Academies of Louisville student ambassadors

Steve Jones

Spalding University hosted some of Louisville’s best and brightest high school students on Tuesday, May 8, for the Jefferson County Public Schools’ Academies of Louisville Student Ambassadors Celebration and Recognition Breakfast.

About 120 student ambassadors from 11 JCPS high schools filled the College Street Ballroom to receive medals that recognized their work in serving as public representatives for their schools over the last year. They received praise from JCPS administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio, and Spalding Graduate Dean of Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson, who gave remarks on behalf of the university.

“When people come to our school district, we could do the easy thing and let the principal or a counselor take the person on a tour,” said Nichelle Freer, from the JCPS Office of College and Career Readiness and an organizer of the ambassadors program. “But it’s more of an impact when it’s a young person (giving the tour). … What better way to create new leaders than to allow them to be voice of their school?”

The ambassadors lead tours and often serve as school representatives to business leaders. The ambassador program is a training ground for them to learn how to network with adults and interact in professional settings.

“I have heard so many positive things in the five or six years in which we’ve had ambassadors where people come to meetings at the schools – very important people, politicians, community and business leaders,” Pollio said, “and their first interaction with someone at the school is not someone sitting at the front desk, not a buzzer, not a ‘Put this sticker on and go down the hall,’ but is (instead) a student (ambassador) who is professional and telling them how great their school is.

“Sometimes I don’t know if you realize how important that is. … I can’t say how thankful I am and proud I am for each and every one of you for serving this school district and your individual schools.”

In his remarks, Jefferson encouraged the students to work toward their dreams and recounted the achievements of Mother Catherine Spalding, the founder and namesake of the university, who overcame family hardships and gender obstacles in the 19th century.

“She set some goals, set some dreams, overcame some obstacles and became one of the most important female leaders and leaders overall in Kentucky history,” he said.

Christy Rogers, director of the Office of College and Career Readiness, called Spalding a “tremendous host” for the ambassadors celebration and said she would like to increase JCPS’s partnerships with Spalding on dual-credit opportunities for students.

By having (Tuesday’s) event at Spalding, “that networking allows us to see a name with a face and not just an email, so it’s a tremendous event,” she said. “And for kids to be on a college campus and see Spalding – it’s right here in their city – it’s been a great event all the way around.”


JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio speaks from a podium on stage to a group of dozens seated at round tables.
JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio addresses the Academies of Louisville Student Ambassadors at the College Street Ballroom.
Spalding Graduate Dean Kurt Jefferson gives remarks from a podium on stage with a large video screen behind him that shows a group of students.
Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson spoke to the group about lessons of leadership that can be learned from Mother Catherine Spalding.