Note: This column is excerpted from remarks made by KSBA President Durward Narramore, when he officially took office Feb. 23 at the conclusion of the general business session during KSBA’s annual conference. Narramore, chairman of the Jenkins Independent school board, takes the reins from Lincoln County school board member Tom Blankenship. He will serve a two-year term.
I was born and raised in the small coal mining town of Jenkins, Ky. in 1952 to Durward and Helen Narramore. I am the youngest of four children in our family.
My parents knew the value of an education early on, but I, as a lot of those around me, chose to go to work and bypass my higher education until later in life. My father told me that the generation before him could get by with very little formal education. He said that his generation had to have at least an eighth-grade education to be able to compete and that my older sisters could make it on a high school education with some college training but that I would have to have at least a bachelor’s degree to compete.
My three sisters took his words to heart more than I. I worked in the coal fields in many capacities until becoming employed by the Virginia Department of Corrections, Red Onion State Prison, where I have had the job as purchaser for the past 15 years.
No truer words were spoken by my father about continuing your education, but it took me until 2008 to complete that phase of my formal education.
I decided to follow the words of my father and enrolled as a nontraditional student at Pikeville College. Believe me when I say that the time to go to college is when you are younger. Trying to balance work, a family and school is much harder than just managing school.
I graduated from Pikeville College, now UPIKE, in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on correctional management and a minor in psychology.
I became a school board member in 1993 by being appointed to a vacant position. I then ran and was elected in the regular election and have continued as a board member, and have been chairman for approximately 16 years of my board service.
I was elected as a regional chairperson on KSBA Board of Directors and have served in that position and as a director-at-large. I did not realize the importance of KSBA until becoming a director on its board.
Thanks to those in the professional world that have helped me become what I am. First, to my local board team: Superintendent Debbie Watts; Vice Chairman Tracy Goff and his wife, Angie; and members Eileen Sanders, Paulette Sexton and Laura Revis; as well as Principal David Lee and his wife, Geana.
Past board members who helped me and taught me about school board service include Alex Eversole (a former superintendent as well as a board member), Benji Prunty, James Hall, Paul Stambaugh; and current Floyd County board member Jeff Stumbo.
I would also like to thank the newer board members across the state who are beginning their service and our current and past KSBA board members and officer who serve you.
I would especially like to mention Frank Welch, former Pike County Schools superintendent, who died earlier this year. He was a strong proponent of education and helper to many seeking to become better people and educators.
I would also to like to thank my family, beginning with best friend, mentor and wife of 40½ years, Deborah. My son, “Trey” Durward Edward Narramore III, and his wife, Cathy and their three children; my daughter, Barbi Mercer and her husband Matt – both educators – and their three children.
There are many more I could thank, but foremost I must thank our creator for giving me life. I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 10. I was not always faithful to him but I always knew he was there when I stumbled and would pick me up. Looking back, I truly believe that being here in any capacity took divine intervention.
I hope, and, actually pray, that I can be the leader that this association needs during these times. We are going through growing pains, but our focus will not be lost. We are the Kentucky School Boards Association and we will continue to be the shining beacon for information and guidance that made us one of the top associations that represent school boards across this nation.
This is the vision of KSBA: to be the leading advocate and resource for public school boards on behalf of successful students and stronger communities. My vision for KSBA is that this organization continues to provide top-notch services to school board members, superintendents, and their districts in Kentucky and to make sure that all children in public schools receive the best education possible. My vision is that we stay focused on the business for which KSBA was designed and to be the well for information, school laws, board policies and procedures, superintendent searches and the voice of school board members in the state legislature. My vision is to make sure that our association continues to help districts manage themselves both educationally and financially by making sure that we are on task and that we listen and respond to the school board members across this state.
Finally, our vision should be that all our decisions have one question behind them: How will this improve the quality of education for our children? If we do these things we will succeed as an organization and as individuals, board members, superintendents.
So, when I am out and about visiting your districts and regions, I believe that my question to you, borrowing from the late former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, is, “How are we doing”? Are we doing the things we need to be doing to make your board service more rewarding? Are we doing the things we need to be doing making sure that the children in this state are getting the quality education they deserve? I believe in KSBA and what we as an association provide. I hope you do, also.