Some school advocates give of their time and some give of their resources. Johnson County school board member Bob Hutchison, the 2016 winner of the Proudfoot Award for Outstanding School Board Member, has a long track record of doing both.
Hutchison received the award, named for the late Dr. Warren Proudfoot, a former Kentucky School Boards Association president and Rowan County school board chairman, Feb. 26 during the association’s annual conference in Louisville. The award is co-sponsored by the Kentucky PTA and KSBA.
Hutchison, a school board member for more than two decades, has donated well over $1 million to schools and student groups in his area, supporting not only students in Johnson County Schools but in schools throughout eastern Kentucky. His donations have helped parent-teacher organizations, bands and choirs, academic and athletic teams, and performing arts groups, according to the nomination submitted by Johnson County Schools District Innovation Coordinator Noel Crum and W.R. Castle Elementary Principal Jeff Cochran.
Despite that, Crum and Cochran wrote, Hutchison’s “greatest contribution as an advocate for children and youth in our communities is his donation of time to help students grow and develop as leaders.”
Johnson County school board member Bob Hutchison receives the Proudfoot Outstanding School Board Member Award. From left, KSBA President Allen Kennedy; Hutchison; Kentucky PTA President Cherie Dimar; and KSBA Executive Director Mike Armstrong.
In accepting the award, Hutchison praised the school board members, administrators, parents, teachers and students he’s worked with over the years and urged attendees to recruit business owners like him in their own communities.
“I challenge all of you to go out and make a unified effort with your administrators to actively pursue small, medium and large businesses to adopt the smallest program or the largest program in your system,” he said. “Every business person has something to offer to our students. It’s not always about the dollars; it’s about their time and what they can teach our students with a club activity or a classroom activity. So my challenge today to you is to get unified and reach out to the businesses, because we all know money’s not always there and it’s a great way to tie in community support.”
Among Hutchison’s contributions cited in his nomination:
• Hutchison is a McDonald’s restaurant franchisee with 14 restaurants, some of which serve as a base for the McTeacher Night program in which school groups raise funds by serving customers in a three-hour shift. Crum and Cochran wrote: “This is very innovative because it allows students, teachers and parents to take an active role in learning about marketing and business while giving community members an opportunity to interact with teachers and students.”
• Hutchison has actively supported Johnson Central High School’s SkillsUSA student group. He has helped develop the students’ leadership and entrepreneurial skills by using their services to design computer-generated print and Web-based graphics and presentations for his businesses. Hutchison also talks to student groups like the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and uses his business expertise on the Johnson County Career and Technical Education Steering Committee.
• As a school board member, he has shown “unparalleled support of both individual school needs and district-wide needs,” Cochran and Crum wrote. That support ranges from visiting students at W.R. Castle Elementary to being part of the board team overseeing construction of a new elementary and renovations at several other schools.
• Hutchison helped establish the Joe Taylor Scholarship, named for a retired athletic trainer. It is awarded annually to a Johnson Central High School graduate. He also partnered with staff members at the high school to start the Johnson Central Hall of Fame to recognize outstanding graduates or retired employees, and underwrites the annual induction ceremony.
• As a public school advocate, Hutchison supported the district’s successful nickel tax initiative, lobbied Kentucky’s Congressional delegation on behalf of a Race to the Top grant for the region and generally “been vocal about the need for appropriate funding for our schools,” the nomination said.
Hutchison’s list of leadership positions and awards for service within his community is lengthy. Currently he is president of the Rockhouse Volunteer Fire Department, and a member of the board of Christian Appalachian Project, Citizens National Bank, Commercial Bank, Bluegrass Council for Boy Scouts of America, University of Pikeville and Midway University.
“What he does for our school pales in comparison to the tremendous things he does for our community and the entire region,” wrote Gaylena Burchett, a member of the W.R. Castle Elementary PTO, giving as examples Hutchison’s support of the W.R. Castle Volunteer Fire Department and his work during community crises.
“When the men are battling fires, he provides meals for free or will donate coffee while they are working. He even paid for a Christmas dinner for all of the volunteer firefighters and their families,” she wrote in a letter supporting the Proudfoot Award nomination. “We also had a devastating flood in our county this past summer and he provided free food each day to all of the volunteers working to assist the flood victims. In addition he volunteered his own time to meet needs of the victims.”
Hutchison’s work with the Boy Scouts garnered him the national Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service to youth, while he has also been dedicated to helping students develop their leadership skills. Hutchison is a recipient of the Joseph W. Kelly Award for education leadership and service from the Kentucky Board of Education, the Appalachian Leaders in Education Award and KSBA’s Friend of Education Award.