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Diane Porter

Kentucky School Advocate
May 2021

Jefferson County board member wins equity and diversity award  
Diane Porter (pictured), chairwoman of the Jefferson County school board, has been named a Robinson Award for Equity and Diversity winner. Porter received the award during the April 7 Kentucky Board of Education meeting.

“I’m always surprised when I receive recognition, because I think that everybody works as hard as I do,” Porter said, adding that she appreciates and is humbled by the honor.

 The KBE has given the award, named for Samuel Robinson, a former educator who served on the KBE from 1991 to 2004, since 2004 to a person or group that displays outstanding leadership, commitment and service in promoting equity and opportunities to learn at high levels for all Kentucky students.

Porter was nominated by Ashley Duncan, vice president for inclusion and diversity at Republic Bank. Duncan previously worked for Jefferson County Schools as a diversity hiring specialist, a position which Porter advocated creating.

Although the award may have her name on it, Porter noted that her district has been ahead of others nationwide in promoting racial equity.

“Whatever has been said, no one person can do the work,” Porter said. “One may plant the seed, but all must tend it.”

“I would like the board and the district to own this honor with me.”

Jefferson County elementary school teacher Kyri Demby also received the Robinson Award. Demby, who teaches music and art to grades K-5 at Jacob Elementary School, said he hopes the impact of receiving the award will show others they can make a difference, encourage them to teach skills to children, and amplify his message of self-control for students.

Former Jefferson County board member joins Prichard  
Benjamin Gies, former Jefferson County school board member, has a new role with the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Gies will lead the committee’s early childhood policy work, Strong Start KY. Gies is a graduate of Bellarmine University, the University of Louisville and is currently earning a doctorate in leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University.

He will serve as director of Early Childhood Policy and Practice and support the community of Owensboro/Daviess County in designing a high-quality early childhood ecosystem that supports stronger kindergarten readiness and proficiency in 3rd grade reading and mathematics for each and every student.

“Through direct engagement with parents, educators and community members at the grassroots level, our commonwealth can ensure that it prioritizes early learning in the lives of its youth. By investing a little today, we can impact the lives of thousands of children who are only now taking their first steps onto life’s stage,” he said. “I am thrilled to continue in my life’s mission to advance education in our commonwealth in such a critical area of focus.”

Gies previously served as the Policy and Advocacy Director for Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Chambers named Fulton Co. Schools superintendent  
PaTrice Chambers, who had been interim superintendent of Fulton County Schools this school year, has been named superintendent.

Chambers had served as assistant superintendent at the district since 2015. She became interim superintendent when Aaron Collins resigned as superintendent in June 2020 to become superintendent of Metro Technology Centers, a career and technical school system in Oklahoma City.

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