Kentucky School Advocate
KSBA’s 2024 Annual Conference is still two months away, but preparations for the March 1-3 event in Louisville are in full swing. In addition to the work of staff, the association relies on a committee of KSBA members who help brainstorm, improve event logistics and develop a conference theme. This year, the committee challenged KSBA to think bigger when it came to the theme, something that extends beyond the three days members will be together. As a result, the 2024 theme will be used all year, not solely during the Annual Conference, and will serve as a springboard for the many ways KSBA supports local school boards.
The theme is “Kentucky School Boards: Keys to Success.”
In honor of School Board Recognition Month and in the spirit of the 2024 theme, we asked members to share their “keys to success” in board service.
My time as a school board member has been a true blessing by understanding the concerns of the parents and seeing the day-to-day challenges for our teachers and, most of all, giving each student the opportunity to navigate a complicated world, showing each student it’s the seemingly simple things that matter the most. – Lamont Johnson, Mason County
School board success can only be achieved by working as a team. Each board member, individually, has very little power. Together they have great power. – William Newsome, Floyd County
Success is achieved through effective communication. I’ve learned that open dialogue and actively listening to diverse perspectives are crucial elements in making informed decisions for the benefit of our students. I believe that creating an environment where every member feels heard and valued contributes significantly to our collective success. This was reinforced through experiences at KSBA conferences, where I gained insights into effective board governance and collaboration strategies. – Will Miller, Harlan Independent
The key to my success as a board member is I always ask myself “Is this what is best for the students? How will this affect the students? How can we better serve the students?” Always keeping the students in the forefront of your mind is the key to success in my opinion. – Megan Dames, Walton-Verona Independent
Staying in touch with the community is #1. Asking parents, students, teachers and staff what they need is the main way we build trust and stay aware of the district's strengths and weaknesses. – Rebecca Blankenship, Berea Independent
Listening to the professionals, certified and classified, within the school district and the engaged parents involved with the school district and making decisions that will positively impact students. Always keeping the students in mind. – Mike Waller, Henderson County
With the nature of how board members are determined, it is easy to accept our role as a political one. I feel like our ultimate focus is our students, staff and administration. So, when faced with a challenge, the first question I ask is “how does this affect kids?” Unfortunately, you will see a lot of issues brought up are by adults for adults. #KeepKidsFirst – Joe Ray Thornbury, Pikeville Independent
Being in the know of what’s happening at school. Answer the questions you are asked from the public to the best of your ability. Be seen at school activities. The public likes to know you care enough to attend other things other than board meetings. – Darlene Gifford, Robertson County
My keys to success have been easy with the board of education. Myself and others have always put kids first and communicate on all levels. Very important to be well informed and learn to put your feelings aside. I have been on the board for 26 years and would do it all over again. It’s easy to follow when you have a good leader. – Larry Jackson, Mayfield Independent
Joy! Remaining joyful when dealing with both the “good” and “not so good” aspects of being a Board Member is a huge key to being successful. Continuing to keep joy in your heart and mind enables you to think clearly and logically. Joy shines through enabling you to be approachable, dependable and thoughtful in your actions. – Suzy Turner, Trimble County
The key to my success as a board member: Putting self and self-interests aside to work together as a board team for the benefit of our entire student population. – Jo Harper, Trigg County