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Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Steve Dent, Henry County Schools

Kentucky School Advocate
August 2021

You were a longtime science teacher, coach and administrator in the Henry County Schools. What made you decide to apply for the vacancy on the board of education?  

I felt I had something to give. This school system was a part of our lives for 33 years – my wife was an elementary teacher and our careers here started on the same day and ended on the same day when we retired. I love the school system. As an educator, I can see from the teachers’ side; as a community member, I have a lot of connection to the community, too.

You were appointed to the school board in January 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit. What was it like serving your first year during the pandemic?

I was sworn in during my first board meeting in February. In March, when we had to close the schools, it was my first big vote as a board member. It was a strange time that none of us had been trained for. We worked hard as a team and got through it; basically it was learning as you went.

I can’t say enough about our superintendent, Terry Price (who recently retired). He did so much to make the transition from in-school to virtual smooth. We really worked as a team to get that done. Everything he did was spot on as far as what to do and when to do it. Our teachers were phenomenal; they worked themselves silly.

Having been on the other side of serving your district, what surprised you about being a board member?

I’d been a local education president for a number of years and had worked with the board on several other occasions, but I didn’t realize how much reading and discussion takes place in preparation for meetings. Before board meetings, we get a packet and there might be 200 pages to go through. Most is not in-depth reading and research but a lot is information you aren’t aware of. In my case, I want to be up to date and make sure if I’m voting on something I have the background and understand the reasoning. So, board service is much more than going to the meeting and saying, “OK, we approve this.” We’ve done our background and research. It takes hours to go through it before the board meeting.

After being appointed, you ran unopposed for election. Now that you have been elected to a four-year term, what are your goals?
The first goal is to hire a new superintendent. We hope to have someone hired by mid-September. I also want to improve student academic scores. Students are No. 1. Last year was difficult. We tried to make sure everyone had Chromebooks and internet access. We set up portable Wi-Fi in different parts of the county so students could get access. During the pandemic and now we’re trying to keep students fed. Our new school food service director is doing a phenomenal job. The district has gotten a new food van and the director is keeping students fed this summer.

We will get more into the students’ academic scores starting this year. We are focused right now making sure the students are caught up and where they should be because of virtual learning.

You had about 10 years between retirement and your return to serving Henry County Schools. What have you enjoyed the most during retirement?

We’ve done a lot of traveling: to Alaska on a cruise/land tour; to Florida, to favorites like Savannah, to the Adirondacks, where my siblings and I share a family camp on the lake. We also want to travel more around Kentucky. We do whatever we can with our kids and grandkids. I have a woodworking shop and have made beds, chairs, tables, Adirondack chairs. I refurbish antiques. My dad was a carpenter so I picked up woodworking skills from him. I have just enough tools to be dangerous.

Getting to know
Profession: 
33 years with Henry County Schools as a science teacher, coach and administrator

Hometown: Camillus, N.Y.

Family: Wife, Elizabeth; son, Christopher; daughter, Emily; and three grandchildren.

Favorite subject in school:
Biology  

Hobbies: Traveling, antiquing, woodworking, gardening, reading, working around the house

Book recommendation for board members: “America’s Bilingual Century” by Steven Levee. It is very thought provoking.

Interesting fact: My wife says I’m the biggest trivia nerd there is; I am just a wealth of unusable knowledge. When I was a middle school principal, I had an information sheet for students when they came in that included a Question of the Day. When students answered it correctly, they’d get a piece of candy, then they could put their name in a bucket and we’d draw a winner.

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