Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Sarah Foster, Fort Thomas Independent

Kentucky School Advocate
September 2023

Q. You are a newly elected board member. Why did you decide to run for the board in 2022?

My kids are about halfway through their K-12 experience. My daughter will be a freshman; my son is going to middle school. I had been a volunteer, starting with school festivals, being a room parent and serving on the PTO board. I was on the site-based council for the elementary school for several years. When I ran for school board, three positions were open. I realized there wasn’t somebody like me on the board: a mom who had a child in elementary school, who’d been a school volunteer and who had a professional legal career that could bring something to the table.

Q. You are an attorney and work for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals from an office in Ohio. Tell us about your job?

My job title is deputy director of workplace relations. I work with employees who believe they are experiencing abusive conduct, discrimination or other workplace disputes. We help facilitate through mediation, by giving them advice or through the complaint process. As an attorney, I understand a lot about policy and legal boundaries. I am also a trained mediator and love working with people involved in disputes to find common ground and have good resolutions.            

Q. You and your husband both grew up in other Kentucky communities. How do those experiences influence your approach to your job as a school board member?

There are a lot of experiences and opportunities in Fort Thomas Independent that were not available in the rural school districts where we grew up. It gives me a different perspective. I often say to my kids and others in the community, ‘We’re so lucky to have this.’ Not all school districts have the resources and opportunities that we have here.

Q. How did serving on the school-based decision making council prepare you for board service? How are those two roles different?

The site-based councils are microcosms of the school board in a sense. Our council worked with the principal, who provided us with information. We learned about test scores, reviewed policies that needed approval and got an understanding of school finances. During the council’s meeting with the district, I started to understand how the school operated as its own unit but also how it functioned within the district. There are similarities with the school board. The board reviews policy and budgets, but on a larger scale, and we have a variety of topics and different decisions to make. We’re tuned in districtwide. We get information about everything that’s happening in the district so that when community members have a question about what is going on we aren’t caught by surprise. Keeping that connection to the community is super important. Otherwise, you might be making decisions that aren’t in the best interest of the community. Our public school system here has always been a source of pride. Involvement is definitely not lacking. It’s one of our community’s biggest strengths.

Q. Fort Thomas Independent is considered one of the top-performing districts in the state. Does that create pressure on the school board?

It doesn’t necessarily feel like pressure, but excellence is the standard that’s been set. It’s not always necessarily about having the highest test scores but also making sure that the students who aren’t going to have the highest test scores are given just as much support to work up to their best potential. If there’s pressure, it’s to make sure that we meet the needs of each student so that we’re not leaving anyone behind.

Getting to know

Hometown: Mount Sterling

Family: Husband, Charlie; daughter, Madeleine; son, Jack

Favorite subject: English

Hobbies: Reading, trying new restaurants, finding fun ways to exercise, like pickle ball

Book recommendation: “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I got so invested in the main character. I kept thinking, if his luck doesn’t change, I might have to give up, but I didn’t.

Interesting fact: I’m super superstitious and will always pick a penny up off the sidewalk for luck. You know, ‘Find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll have good luck.’ I picked up a penny yesterday then had a fender bender last night. So, I wondered, ‘Did that penny work?’ Then I thought, ‘Maybe it worked wonderfully because nobody got injured!’

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