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KSBA News Article

Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Diane Hatfield, Southgate Independent  Schools

Kentucky School Advocate
December 2021

Q. You have been on the board for Southgate Independent since 2002. What made you want to serve?  

A. 
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and had just finished up four years in education. I also volunteered in my sons’ classrooms and on the PTA. My parents were both on city council, so the thought of service was always there, but I thought I would do it later in life. Then someone who had filed to run for the board came up and said, ‘We have an unexpired term and no one has filed for it; why don’t you consider it?’ That was the little nudge I needed.  

Q. You recently retired from the Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services. But you have worked in many different capacities during your 40-year career.

A.
I spent 15 years as a teacher then went to work for the regional service center as a Title I consultant. I worked for Covington Schools, for the northern Kentucky co-op, for Newport Schools, retired from there, and went back to work for the Co-op in professional learning. Over my career I’ve supported elementary, middle, high school and a vocational school.

Q. Has this broad range of experience affected your board service?

A. 
Absolutely. I come with an education-first view and also keep in touch with the teacher perspective. After I left the classroom, my jobs supported educators so they could do the best job with students. I’m a teacher of teachers.

Q. Do your fellow board members turn to you because of this experience?

A. 
There are times they say, ‘OK Diane, what do you think?’ One vote we had early in my board service was a proposal to cut back to half-day kindergarten. I shared my opinion on why, unless there were budget reasons, we should not cut back. We voted 3-2 to keep all-day. I knew then there were people who listened to what I had to say.

Q. You’ve been an advocate for public education, sometimes traveling to Frankfort for demonstrations. Why is it important for board members to be vocal advocates for public education?

A. 
There are times when we need to share the rationale for tough decisions that keep schools moving in the right direction. I’m not always the most outspoken person but if it is about education, which I’m so passionate about, it comes easier. I’ve watched over these 20 years as small independent districts have had to shut their doors. This has been a love for me, an effort in volunteering. I have not accepted any compensation.

Q. Talk about how your board advocated successfully for a tax increase that was needed to keep the district viable.

A. 
Years ago, we passed what was one of the highest tax increases at the time. We went door-to-door. I spoke to groups: the private schools, the fire department, the women’s auxiliary, the Optimist Club.

Q. Your small district is one of five in Campbell County. What makes Southgate Independent, which is K-8, special to you?

A. 
You walk into the auditorium that’s 100-plus years old and see pictures of graduates, and it just oozes history. Our tagline is Small School, Big Pride. There is history with the smallness. When my son graduated from eighth grade he talked about how he’d been in every group and activity he could have except cheerleading. With that smallness there is still opportunity for students to find their niche.  

Getting to know

Profession:
Educator  

Hometown: Southgate

Family: Married 38 years to husband, Jerry; sons Jared and Jordan; daughter-in-law Cassie and grandkids, Hayden, 6, and Xander, 3  

Favorite subject in school: Science, but in college, children’s literature was my favorite class.      

Hobbies: Being Gigi to my grandkids. I’ve always had an interest in fitness so I take yoga classes four or five days a week and walk around the lake every day at Southgate Community Center to fill up my soul and take care of this beautiful vessel I’ve been blessed with.

Book recommendation:
“Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change” by Shawn Achor. Before Happiness talks about being optimistic in your approach to life.

Interesting fact: I always say I will do anything to support education, which has included laying on a bed of nails. I had taken my son and niece to a science camp, and asked if I could help out. They said, “Sure.” They needed a volunteer to lay on a bed of nails, so I did. The next year, I was a teacher at the camp.  

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