Lee County education leader gives keynote address at GCSU commencement

Produced by University Communications

S uperintendent of Lee County Schools Dr. Kathleen Truitt gave a keynote commencement address at her alma mater, Georgia College & State University.

Dr. Kathleen Truitt
Dr. Kathleen Truitt
She told students graduating from university’s College of Education that she was “dumbfounded” when asked by GCSU President Cathy Cox to speak at commencement.


“I am simply a regular person and what would I have to really offer you at such a pivotal moment,” Truitt said. “And then it occurred to me, maybe just maybe I could share how a regular person can use the tools they have to do big things.”

An esteemed leader with more than two decades of innovative educational experience, Truitt  began her career in 2001 as an elementary and middle grades teacher in the Henry and Clayton County school systems.  

She advanced into various administrative and leadership roles, which included roles as principal and assistant superintendent. She led teams that developed groundbreaking learning models to address underperformance and enrichment in literacy and mathematics.

In 2023, Truitt became the first woman to serve as superintendent in Lee County.

Truitt received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a Spanish minor from the University of Louisville in Kentucky and a master’s of education from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She got her specialist in educational leadership degree from Georgia College & State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Columbus State University. She was also certified in educational leadership at the University of West Georgia.

Truitt told the class of 2024 she grew up in an education family. Both parents were educators and two aunts “rode mules to teach in one room schoolhouses in Western Kentucky.” She talked about the night an abandoned teenager, one Christmas Eve, became her “new big brother.”

This work is not for the weak at heart, but it just might be some of the best work that we can do for the communities we serve…I cannot wait to see the futures that you will build.
– Kathleen Truitt
“That night, I watched whatever it takes happen right before my eyes,” Truitt said. “My parents made a difference from that moment on…and I wanted to make a difference too.”


“That need to make a difference became a driving force, both in my personal and professional life,” she said. “That need to make a difference is the very reason why I’m standing in front of you today.”

Truitt told COE majors her acronym for LIFE is: Learning, Initiating, Failing and Energy. She asked new graduates to keep learning; not wait for things to happen but initiate; be willing to take calculated risks and fail in order to bring about change; and put energy into their efforts.

“You are entering into a challenging career,” Truitt told them. “There has never been a time in history where serving a community in public education has been more challenging.”

She mentioned the global pandemic, divided politics and troubled families. She urged graduates to be the impact that “creates cultures where all children have opportunities and dreams, and they have real experiences where there is trust and belief in public education.”

“I will not stand here and lie to you,” she said. “This is hard work. This work is not for the weak at heart, but it just might be some of the best work that we can do for the communities we serve…I cannot wait to see the futures that you will build.”