By Tom Blankenship
As I write this, my last article for the Kentucky School Advocate, I do so sitting in a rustic, hundred-year-old-plus log cabin, with two black Labs lying nearby in front of a warm fire, a relaxing and welcome respite on a cold November day. Outside, the vibrant colors of fall have been transforming into the dark and duller hues of the impending winter season. Sixty-five feet below, the soothing sounds of a creek can be heard.
For some, a setting such as this could make them somewhat nostalgic; at least it does me.
As I reflect back on the years I have served on KSBA’s board of directors and, more particularly, my tenure as president of KSBA, I do so with many varied and vivid memories.
Serving as president of our association has been a very rewarding experience for me, as it has allowed me the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with many individuals throughout Kentucky.
This position has provided me the opportunity to be a part of four presentations of the PEAK (Public Education Achieves in Kentucky) Award for innovative programs in several districts – Burgin Independent, Letcher County, Taylor County and Boone County. I have been impressed with the commitment staff members have made to new programs for students in their respective districts and for the betterment of education in the Commonwealth.
Similarly, the Friend of Education, Kids First, Proudfoot Award for outstanding school board member and F.L. Dupree Award for outstanding superintendent have been presented to worthy groups and individuals. It’s always a pleasure to honor these outstanding people. These awards are a strong indicator of how accomplished these honorees have been in support of educational progress.
It was especially an honor to recognize our first recipients of the First Degree College Scholarship at our Annual Conference in February. I am looking forward to the presentation to two more outstanding students at our next Annual Conference, Feb. 22-24. It is a pleasure to know that this association may have made a very important difference in the lives of these young people.
During my time with KSBA’s board of directors, I have served with dozens of individuals, each bringing his or her own experience and perspective to the board. As local board members, we should consider ourselves fortunate to have had these quality people to represent us.
These special people have given a lot of time and expended considerable effort to serve you effectively. The close association of these individuals has resulted in strong friendships and a camaraderie that has made us, as someone has said, “like family.” Always remember, you have the opportunity to join this group. I would strongly encourage anyone who has an interest in serving this association to pursue that interest – and I am confident you will find it all worthwhile.
Sadly, while I served on the board of directors, death claimed two outstanding individuals – Joe England of Harrison County and Tim England of Barren County. The contributions each made and the friendship they exhibited will be long remembered. These individuals exemplified what this association strives to be about.
I personally am indebted to former KSBA presidents Bill Lovell of McLean County and Brenda Jackson of Shelby County for the opportunity to serve and for the confidence they placed in me. I will always be grateful for their assistance. I only hope that I have assisted others in a similar way, in their service to the association.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the leadership that Bill Scott has provided to the association for eight years in the role of executive director. He has especially made all of us feel welcome and has provided assistance when needed. Doubtless, Bill has been at his best in dealing with difficult and challenging situations that have arisen over the years. His drive and tenacity have proven to be noteworthy assets for this association. Bill’s personal passion lies in service. To him goes a very sincere, thank you.
As I will soon be leaving this position of leadership, I do so with deep appreciation for being granted this opportunity. This has been a remarkable experience and I hope that I have made some degree of contribution to the continuing success of this association.
Finally, I wish all school board members the very best in their service to all the young people in Kentucky.
—Blankenship is vice chairman of the Lincoln County Board of Education