Braxton King, McCreary County Schools
Kentucky School Advocate
November 2021Q. You joined the board in 2019. What made you want to serve?
My dad was on the board in the ‘60s and two of my aunts served on the board, so I had a desire to serve the community and we already work with youth through the rec center we run. My wife and sister had worked in the McCreary County school system but neither work here now – my wife teaches special ed in Pulaski County – so it was a time that I could run.Q. Has board service been as you expected?
Yes. The learning curve is very steep, which is why you have a board attorney; there’s so much to keep up with. I like to not only go to the in-house trainings but all the trainings. You learn a lot listening to different boards and board members.Q. You mentioned your rec center, which was created to provide safe, drug-free activities for youth in your county. Tell us about the program.
In 2002 we rented, then later purchased, the old McCreary County High School building. It’s called the Lord’s Gym. We have a pitching machine, a computer lab, a weight room, Xbox 360, foosball. It is free for kids. We’re not open right now because of COVID. We will open in the spring. All my life I’ve heard, ‘We need a rec center,’ so we tried to fill that void. It wasn’t always perfect but problems were minimal because we told kids, this is for you, and if you mess it up, you mess it up for yourself. So the kids took ownership.Q. So your goal was to give kids a safe place?
Yes, to try and get them away from at-risk behaviors like drug addiction and have mentoring and modeling. We do a lot of work with people who are already on drugs. If you can prevent a child from going that route – and I believe that’s what the school system can do too – I’ve read it is something like $100,000 a year the community will save.Q. How do you fund the project?A.
We just pray, and it always comes in. There have only been two public fundraisers in its history, and when Congressman Rogers became aware, we got a grant for a new roof and central heat and air. But most of the support is from the community. I was told it couldn't be done, so its success is quite a testimony in what USA Today says is the poorest county in the nation. Of course, it helps that nobody gets paid, including myself. When, at our first basketball camp, we expected 60 and got 180, I realized, it was going to be bigger than we thought. It has a lot of positives, like when young people come up and say, ‘This kept me out of a lot of trouble.’Q. You’ve also been involved in fighting drug addiction in your county. Why is this important to you?
There is hope for the addicted, but it is a battle. That is why we look at teachers as the frontline. They are the ones who have to be counselors sometimes; they know the children and can see them hurting. I believe everyone is uniquely created with a purpose and one way we have watched purpose being destroyed in Appalachia is by drug addiction. If you try to look at the scope of how huge, it is overwhelming. But if you look at just that one person, it is worth it to try to help that one be restored back to sanity.Q. You’re a McCreary County native and started your church there. Why did you feel compelled to make your life in McCreary County?
I lived briefly in Tulsa and in Virginia Beach but other than that I’ve always lived in McCreary County. I’ve had chances to pastor in other places, but I’ve felt like this is where I needed to be. I love the community; it is a beautiful place to live.
Getting to know
Profession: 37 years as a pastor; with Resurrection Life Church in Pine Knot since 1995
Family: Wife, Monica; son Brandon and daughter Brittany
Favorite subject in school: Music. I use it in my work as I sing two to three times a week.
Book recommendation: The Bible and “Robert’s Rules of Order” are easy answers. A great book on working through difficult issues is “The Tale of Three Kings” by Gene Edwards.
Interesting fact: I have a love for old books. I’m searching all the time for new titles and have looked for some for decades. I like originals. I just found the biography of Count Zinzendorf from 1846, first English edition, from Ireland and got it for $70. It is very rare, worth hundreds of dollars.