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Voice Recognition

Proudfoot Award

2018 school board member of the year’s steady hand in leading his district doesn’t falter

Kentucky School Advocate
March 2018

Paintsville Independent school board member Ken Fuller, fourth from left, received the 2018 Warren Proudfoot Award for Outstanding School Board Member March 3 during KSBA's annual conference.

A school board member whose education background has helped his district’s academic programs reach greater heights has received the 2018 Warren Proudfoot Award for Outstanding School Board member. Paintsville Independent school board member Ken Fuller received the award March 3 during the Kentucky School Boards Association’s annual conference in Louisville. The award is sponsored and judged by the Kentucky PTA.

Fuller has been a Paintsville Independent school board member for 19 years. When he was elected in 1998, the district was facing a tumultuous time with its finances in disarray and growing concern that the district would have to close its doors, his fellow board members, Marvin Walker and Joe Porter, said in nominating him.

Since that time, the district has grown in strength and stability, both financially and academically. Walker and Porter, who were elected the same year as Fuller, said Fuller’s “understanding of the educational process has been an enormous factor in helping us make decisions that are always student first.”

Paintsville Independent school board member Ken Fuller, fourth from left, received the 2018 Warren Proudfoot Award for Outstanding School Board Member during KSBA's annual conference. Presenting the award are KSBA President David Webster, Kentucky PTA Pesident-Elect Heather Wampler and KSBA Executive Director Kerri Schelling. Also pictured are Paintsville board members Marvin Walker and Joe Porter. 

In accepting the award, Fuller praised his district for its academics and facilities, despite being landlocked and tiny in area, but also heaped praise on his fellow board members, calling them "a great board team."

“We have one of the best board teams, and with that you can accomplish all things,” he said.

Fuller was a chemistry professor at Prestonsburg Community College until his retirement in 2008. During the summers, he taught bowling and tennis to youth in Johnson County, including starting a youth tennis program in the early 1990s.

During his school board tenure, Fuller has earned the reputation as the board’s parliamentarian, and his fellow board members often lean on his expertise whenever there is a question of process or on policy and procedures.

In his letter supporting Fuller’s nomination, Walker commended Fuller’s no-nonsense approach to duty and to facing whatever issue is at hand. “At the same time, I know that he truly understands, and respects, the proper role of the school board being limited to setting vision and goals for the respective district, adopting policies, hiring of only a single person, etc.”

Paintsville High School Principal Charles McClure wrote in a letter that Fuller’s “accomplishment and commitment to our school system goes well beyond a list. The many lives of students touched through his dedication to the Paintsville Independent School System is remarkable.”

Fuller also volunteers his time outside of board meetings, attending academic meets, sporting events and open houses. Fuller is a side judge for the high school’s volleyball team and his wife, Leneda, keeps the clock during games. He regularly attends and participates in learning activities at the district’s schools to show his support for teachers and students. 

What makes Fuller’s dedication and commitment to his job even more remarkable, his colleagues say, is his battle with cancer. “He has never used his illness as a reason to not be involved and, in fact, his dedication to our school system has become even more apparent,” Walker and Porter wrote. 

Walker noted that Fuller “has continued to ‘put up with’ his treatments while going about his school board duties in a rather undaunted, business-like fashion. … In my view, Ken has gone from being an exceptional school board member to a most extraordinary school board member.”

Paintsville Superintendent David Gibson wrote that as he got to know Fuller he “grew to appreciate his courage and stoicism in the battle he was facing personally with cancer.” Fuller has attended every board meeting while undergoing treatment and “not one single time has he complained or lost his wonderful sense of humor,” Gibson said. “Mr. Fuller exemplifies what every board member should be. He is truly a model for servant leadership.”

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