New mental health counselor ready to make connections

Jennifer Riley is shown inside the Board of Education office.

There’s a new face that students in Knox County will soon be seeing as the district expands its focus on mental health.

Jennifer Riley is shown inside the Board of Education office.Jennifer Riley is one of two counselors that are funded by federal Student Support and Academic Enrichment programming (Title IV).  Riley, and a second counselor to be named, will be focused on providing all students with access to a well-rounded education.  In this case, mental health.

Riley brings past work and education experience to the job, being well-rounded herself in providing student support to all demographics and ability levels.

She started her career in education in the Laurel County School District. First in 2004 as a paraeducator, then as a reading and math tutor, and finally as a preschool special education teacher. In 2020 she joined the Kentucky Department of Education where she was Kentucky’s Part B, 619 Coordinator until coming to Knox County.

Along with nearing 19 years of experience, Riley holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, IECE-SEEC Teaching from EKU, and a Master’s in School Guidance from the University of the Cumberlands. She just recently completed her Rank 1 in School Guidance along with a Director of Special Education certification at Murray State University.

Riley said that she looks forward to working with principals and school staff to support their use of the five social-emotional competencies which are self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.

“It is my hope to assist Knox County staff, students, and their families in their understanding and increased use of the common language and skills used in social-emotional learning,” said Riley.

“I am just so excited to have been given the opportunity to work with students of all ages, hopefully connecting with them in a way that they will view me as one of the many trusted adults they have the ability to reach out to.”

When she is not working, she supports her own well-being by being with her family.

“I enjoy spending time with my husband Shawn, my three adult sons Hayden, Hunter, and Ty, the most precious daughter-in-laws on the planet, Miranda and Marissa, as well as recently added Grace, Tanner and Tayler.

“Never missing an opportunity I have to mention my pups, Willow, Rosie, Bid, and Mae along with grandpup Viz. They truly bring so much joy to our family! Jeep rides to visit the groomer and to get the occasional “pup cup” from Dunkin Donuts rank highest on our summer to-do list.”

Once the second counselor has been hired and both have had time to collaborate, they will split their duties among schools.

Jennifer Riley may be contacted via email at