Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

President's Perspective

Karen Byrd

With a little help from my friends

Kentucky School Advocate
September 2023

By Karen Byrd
KSBA President

“When I was younger, so much younger than today.
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured.
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.”

“Help!” The Beatles

According to my mother, my first complete sentence came just before my second birthday.

“I do it myself!”

It became a mantra, often delivered with gusto, that stayed with me as I grew up. I was raised to be self-sufficient, to find my own solution. On the one hand, I learned early on to operate independently. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, I struggle to this day to say that four letter word: H-E-L-P.

For some, asking for help is an afterthought. For others, an intimidating proposition. Whether rooted in ego, fear or ignorance, one’s inability to ask others for help burns valuable time and energy that could otherwise be applied to the challenge at hand.

The fact is, we can’t always do it alone. Who knows that better than school board members? We need a quorum to conduct business. We need someone to second our motion. We need a majority to move something forward.

I am sure many of you recently served as greeters, guides and volunteers during back-to-school events in your districts. You know just how important it is to seek out those wide-eyed new families and offer them our assistance. If they are lost and uninformed, we risk missing opportunities to engage with them on a deeper level.

“If you need anything, just let us know. We’re here to help you.”

That’s not to say we want our families to be overly dependent. Our schools do everything they can in these early weeks of the new year to point out the various resources available for families to help themselves: the websites, the apps, the library of documents, the names and acronyms. By anticipating their needs and serving up answers on a silver platter, our districts are being proactive.

“For answers to all your questions, be sure to check out our website.”

KSBA takes the same approaches to addressing the needs of Kentucky’s 857 school board members.

Through our events, publications, training resources, advocacy efforts, policy and legal services, etc., association staff members do their best to anticipate what you need when you need it. But they can only meet you halfway. It is up to you to let us know when and how we can be of greatest help to you, and it is up to you to make the most of all the ways KSBA can empower you as a district leader.

There is an old – and false – myth that we only use about 10% of our brain power at any given time. Use your gray matter and take a quick inventory of all the ways KSBA could be empowering you as a leader, that is if you simply reached out. Ask yourself, “Am I only using 10% of my association?”

This school year, I challenge you to read everything. Attend everything. Actively participate in everything that KSBA throws your way and never hesitate to reach out if you have questions. In the end, you will position yourself to be a better board member. As we like to say, “better school boards mean better public schools.”

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