Kentucky School Advocate
Like many board members, you served as a parent on a school-based decision making council before you ran for school board. How has that experience impacted your board service?
My daughter was in elementary school when I was on the SBDM council. (She’s 30 now.) It is helpful when you have a child in the system to see how the system works from the viewpoint of a parent and then to have the perspective of seeing how the system works from being a board member. It is good to have both perspectives. Your responsibilities as a SBDM member and as a board member are completely different. Russellville is one of 51 independent districts. Is board service different on an independent board?
Your responsibilities on a school board, whether you serve a county or an independent district, are the same. The difference comes in representation. I am not elected from a certain district within the county. In an independent district, we are all at-large. Each member focuses on the whole district instead of a specific geographic area. In your work as a paralegal at a Bowling Green law firm, you see firsthand the impact state laws and government have outside of education. Do you ever bring any of that experience into board conversations?
Having worked for attorneys I have different way of looking at things. Attorneys are very analytical and dissect things. I think that experience influences my approach.You begin your two-year term as KSBA president on Feb. 20, and you’ve also served on the board of directors. Why did you want to get involved in KSBA leadership?
I realized that if I wanted to have an impact on public education, for the state at large, working on the KSBA board was going to be my best avenue.What are you are most passionate about in working to improve public education?
Advocacy is one of the areas I’m most interested in – advocating with our state legislature as far as budgeting, making sure we are adequately funded and also on legislation like charter schools that impacts public school education not just in my district, but in every district. I’ve developed a relationship with my local legislators and I hope through KSBA I can develop relationships with other legislators who have influence in those areas.You’ve testified before the state legislature and traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers. What advocacy advice do you have?
You have to build relationships with your local legislators; they need to hear from you and know what your concerns and positions are. You have to be honest. They need to know that you are a good resource, that your information is objective and authentic. If it is, they will come back to you for your insights.How did you build relationships?
I started by emailing them when I saw a piece of legislation I was concerned about. I’d say, ‘Hey, I’m a board member in Russellville, here are my thoughts and concerns about that legislation. I’d appreciate it if you would let me know if you are supporting it or not.’
My local legislators have been very responsive. Anytime I have reached out, they have gotten back to me to say why they can or can’t support a measure. I invited both of them to attend (our recent board meeting) because we were discussing our budget, and I knew they were discussing the budget at state level. One attended in-person and the other by Zoom. It was encouraging that they would take time during the session to come and listen to our concerns. They appreciated the invitation and the information we shared. And they asked questions. so it wasn’t just listening, which is also encouraging.Getting to know
Russellville. I’m a graduate of the school system as is my daughter.Family:
Daughter Priscilla, an attorney in LouisvilleFavorite subject in school:
History. I had a really good high school history teacher who made us think and encouraged debate.Hobbies:
I’m a sports fan. In normal times, I’d be cheering my Panthers at football and basketball games. I played flute in band and before the pandemic, sometimes I’d play at church.Book recommendation for board members:
“What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America” by Ted Dintersmith. Sen. Max Wise, chair of the Senate education committee, recommended it on Twitter a couple of years ago. I’m currently reading “Maximum Impact: Boards of Education and Superintendents Communicating as a Team” by Brian Creasman and Brad Hughes.
Most people move around and change jobs. I’m in my 39th year of work, and only my second job. Also, I take shorthand. When I am taking notes in a meeting, I revert to shorthand.