Giving your presence
Kentucky School Advocate
By Kerri Schelling
KSBA Executive Director
The holidays are almost upon us and no matter which one you celebrate, there is a good chance that you are asking yourself the same question I am: “What am I going to get for all the people on my shopping list?” Holiday shopping in the United States is big business and, according to forecasts from the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend almost $731 billion on it this year (up from $701.2 billion in 2018). But while tangible goods and services obviously remain at the top of many lists, even the Grinch who stole Christmas realized that not every gift can be bought from a store.
Some of the most memorable gifts I have received didn’t involve a single box, bag or bow, but did involve someone sharing seconds, minutes and hours. It may not seem like much, but given how busy our lives have become, the gift of time may be the most precious thing we have to offer. Perhaps no one knows the significance of this more than public school board members.
Over the years I have had the privilege to meet thousands of Kentucky school board members and while a few believed the work could be done with a minimal investment of time, the overwhelming majority understood that to do the job well required a significant time commitment. If you add up the hours typically spent preparing for and participating in board meetings and work sessions, attending district activities and events, fielding questions and sharing information with community members, and learning through professional development opportunities, school board service amounts to being on duty 24/7.
For those who have not been called to board service (and perhaps even occasionally for those who have), the question of “why would anyone want to work that much for free?” has likely crossed your mind. After all, the work will require difficult decisions, is more likely to receive complaints than compliments and will inevitably compete with other priorities in your life. I have learned that while every member comes to board service based on individual experiences, concerns and beliefs, the common thread is that they want to make a difference. They each have specific ideas about what needs to be done to strengthen public education in their community and the desire to use their talents and abilities to help make it happen.
But even so, there must be other ways to contribute, leaving board service to those whose schedules can more easily accommodate the time required, right? In my experience, the answer for these special men and women is “no.” School board service is a gift each member gives to their community. And, as is true of all the best gifts, it is given freely for the benefit of others and without expectation of receiving anything in return. On behalf of your KSBA Board of Directors and staff, and all those who benefit from your time and commitment, thank you for your gift of service!
I wish each of you very Happy Holidays and a new year full of goodwill, peace, happiness, hope and joy.