Kentucky School Advocate
By Allen Kennedy
The 2015 National School Boards Association Conference in Nashville, Tenn., which attracted 8,000 school leaders from throughout the United States and Canada, has come and gone. Its theme was “Their futures start with you,” and there were many opportunities for school board members and others to hone our skills and network with one another.
Friday, March 20, included pre-conference workshops for many and the Delegate Assembly for the state association executive directors, presidents, and delegates and alternates. Approximately 28 NSBA Beliefs/Policies/Resolutions were recommended for adoption with minor debate before passage.
Saturday began with former television anchorwoman Jane Pauley addressing the conference on a familiar topic, “The Necessity of Change.” She based the presentation on the many changes in her broadcasting career as a reporter, anchor and television host. She shared insights using several illustrations about different people she had encountered in her life. Pauley said we must remake ourselves throughout life and while many look forward to retirement, it has taken on a new meaning. She said we now retire to something, not retire from something. That is and has been my personal philosophy as president of KSBA today and throughout a 40-year career in industry. We must remake, retrain, and continuously improve ourselves in preparation for the future opportunities.
Another highlight was a talk by national Teacher of the Year Sean McComb, who teaches high school English in Baltimore, Md. He provided strategies for continuous personal growth, and pointed out three important areas of focus in cultivating “an educational experience worthy of my students:”
• The environment in which students learn must be positive, with high expectations; in those types of surroundings, the brain is 31 percent more productive, he said.
• A collegial environment of working together breaks down barriers and provides a better atmosphere to be part of and to work in. McComb said we must work together for the common good.
• The focus should be on the whole child. He compared this to being able to seeing only the part of an iceberg that is above the water – but what is under the water is very important. Children need us to be concerned about them both at school and at home, he said, and in many cases, we need to go beyond their school needs. These are points for consideration about how our work as board members is influencing Kentucky’s schoolchildren as future leaders.
The Kentucky delegation represented us well at the NSBA conference, with approximately 223 Kentuckians registered. Seven Kentucky school districts (Montgomery, Warren, Jefferson, Taylor and Boone counties; and Eminence and Russellville independents) provided enlightening presentations, and several sessions were led by KSBA staff. I want to say a special thanks to each for sharing your knowledge and expertise with those in attendance from Kentucky and elsewhere. It is always an uplifting experience to glean innovative information from our colleagues. While there were many other sessions I could write about, I must close by thanking my Kentucky colleagues (superintendents, board members, KSBA staff and others) for your attendance and for taking advantage of the opportunity to focus on continuous improvement as representatives of our kids in Kentucky.
— Kennedy is a member of the Hancock County Board of Education