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Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Della Justice Berea Independent

Kentucky School Advocate
June 2021

You graduated from Berea College then years later moved back to Berea. What prompted your move?  

My husband got a position in the development office at the college and was commuting from our home in Frankfort. We felt Berea would work better for our family. Also, we wanted to explore small town life. We have enjoyed being a part of the community here.

You may be our first board member who is also a podcast host. Tell us about The Berea Podcast.

My husband and I have moved around Kentucky quite a bit, usually for job relocation. We would get to a place and get to know a little about the area, but then you don’t ever really get out as much and get real familiar with your new town. We thought this would be a great way to get introduced to the town and create an introduction for other newcomers. We picked things we wanted to know about and asked people if we could interview them. My husband is a big podcaster. We do classes on podcasting during the Berea Summer Workshops.

Tell us about a couple of your podcast subjects.

One education-related podcast was with Mike Hogg, when he retired as school superintendent here. We talked to him about his perspective on the school system. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about a podcast with a lady who does Jazzercise as she walks around town. She had a lovely life story. People would say, “I’ve seen her around town. I’ve always wondered about her.”

Why did you decide to run for school board after your move to Berea?

Linda Wagers, a retired school teacher, attends my church and had been on the school board for many years. She encouraged me to run. Her suggestion fit with my values. I have always had a personal interest in the public school system and feel it is the best way for all kids from all backgrounds to succeed.

Did more people contact you during the past year?

There has been more public discourse around the issues of school and the pandemic, but the one silver lining is our meetings became virtual and more accessible. It is really important for the public to feel included and see decisions being made.

What is something you are looking forward to in your district during the next school year?
Taking some of the virtues of virtual learning and things we have learned about meeting kids in different ways and seeing what that looks like in a normal school year. I think this year has gotten some creative juices flowing and in some ways has opened up the possibilities. So next year, it might be how do we take the lessons learned from this past year and “yes, and” them. Another great thing to come out of this is the emphasis on everyone having access to the internet, so now we can build on that.

In addition to board service, you’ve worked for the Kentucky Court Appointed Special Advocates(CASA)Network, the Kentucky Attorney General’s office and now for the Department for Natural Resources. Why have you chosen a career in public service?

When I went to law school I didn’t have a grand plan. I clerked for a federal judge and worked for a law firm. In private practice, I wasn’t as motivated about making the money, which is important because you have to keep the lights on and keep people employed. What interested me more was policy and moving things forward for more people. So I joined the Attorney General’s office in consumer protection. I was more about championing something larger than myself. The idea of being part of a community effort spoke to me.

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