Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Laura Weddle, Boyle County Schools

Kentucky School Advocate
September 2020

You joined the board in 2018 as an appointee and are now running for a four-year term. What inspired you to want to serve on the board?

I was very interested in serving because I love children and public education. Through my job with CASA of the Bluegrass, I serve some of the most vulnerable citizens in our communities. I wanted to be a broader voice for those children. Sometimes, by working in this field, I see, hear and learn things, and it makes me think about things in a different way or bring attention to areas the average person might not notice or see.

You are CASA’s executive director; can you tell us about its work?

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. We recruit, screen and train community volunteers to advocate for child victims of abuse and neglect who are in the current family court system. I serve Boyle, Mercer, Anderson and Franklin counties.

When a child enters the family court system because of abuse or neglect, there are so many people coming in and out of their life that they lose a sense of consistency. The judge will appoint us to a case and we pair that child with an advocate, their CASA, who gets to know them and interviews all who are involved with that court case – parents, teachers, doctors, therapists. The volunteer uses the information to create a report for the court and attends all court hearings in the case. The report makes education, medical and permanency recommendations with the goal being that every child we serve ends up with a safe and permanent home.

From your experience at CASA, what advice do you have for boards as to how they can better serve and protect children in their board role?
It is so important for board members to remember how different every child’s experience is at home, and that what they experience at home is often brought to school with them. For instance, the child whose parents are making meth at home is bringing meth chemicals into the school. When a child has experienced trauma, it might affect how they act in class. As a school board, we have to make decisions that impact every child in a positive manner and remember the children who don’t have the ideal experience at home.

Board members have had to make a lot of tough decisions during the pandemic. What has been the most challenging?

I am most worried about children who aren’t in school and can’t have eyes laid on them. Often, abuse, neglect, hunger and food insecurity are picked up on at school by teachers, counselors and other students. Abuse reports have decreased because there are no eyes on these kids. I know teachers and counselors in our district who are making phone calls and checking in on kids, finding creative ways to connect with them.

What’s something your district is doing that makes you excited for the future?

Over the past year, they’ve done new strategic planning on mental health, trauma and safety in schools and, for me professionally, that is something I have enjoyed seeing developed. It is a great thing to protect the mental health of our students and for school to be a safe place.

Getting to know Laura Weddle

Profession: Executive director, CASA of the Bluegrass

Hometown: Danville

Children: Benjamin, age 15

Favorite subject in school:
English and drama. I was involved in the forensics program and in theater in high school and college.

Hobbies: Gardening, reading, history and metal detecting

Book recommendation for board members: “Educated” by Tara Westover and “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

Interesting fact: In metal detecting, I focus on old and historical objects. I have found Civil War bullets, Colonial-era buttons, a beautiful pair of embroidery scissors. One of my favorite finds were bits of a china plate – I was able to almost reconstruct it from the pieces I found. Being an archeologist was a dream when I was little.

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