The Thrasher Group

McKinley Architects & Engineers

January 19, 2018 - Volume 38 Issue 2



“He that would make his own liberty secure,  must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”   -   Thomas Paine  (1737- 1809), English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary.

Erica Marks

By David Webster

President, Kentucky School Boards Association and chairman, Simpson County school board

Our strength as school board members stems from our whole board having a good understanding of its responsibilities. Our working knowledge of budget, policy, procedure, ethics and student needs is imperative to be effective board members. Our chief desire for our students should not be for them to be wealthy or famous, but for them to acquire an excellent education through our public schools. They will acquire the wealth after their education, and for some, maybe also a high profile. Both of those items would be a bonus to the education that board members help provide to each of their district’s students.

But beyond our mastery of the responsibilities that lay the foundation for effective schools, there are intrinsic gifts that we can give to our students. There are certain actions that we can take to ensure that our students are not deprived of genuine knowledge. Knowledge is acquired from many sectors and it is our place to be one of those sectors by providing the best example we can; our students learn more from our lifestyle than they learn from our words, which is why we need to be in a continuous giving mode toward them. We owe it to our students to be an outstanding example. This doesn’t mean we need to pretend perfection. Instead, simply be real and be genuine, because you can be sure children and youth will sniff out insincerity. Let your actions and words in your board meetings be one of togetherness and teamwork. Show that you can agree to disagree and work together.

There are several character traits that we must demonstrate to our students (see box below).

You can demonstrate that last quality listed – unconditional love –  by just saying, “I may not accept what you do, but I accept you.” Give them constant encouragement. There is a difference between praise and encouragement. Praise says that “I am proud of you for what you do.” Encouragement says that “I am proud of you for who you are,” regardless of your ethnicity, name or social status. Encouragement gives a child confidence and in today’s society our students need all the confidence-building we can provide. They face many more obstacles than we did when we were attending school. In every facet of what we do for our district, we owe it to them to build their confidence.

Other gifts to our students? Give them wise instruction. Give them reasonable limitations. Give them a listening ear; we need to be willing to listen when they want to talk. We must also make time and opportunities for one-on-one conversation if needed. If we let them voice their concerns about their schools – even giving them time to speak at board meetings – we might hear some great ideas to improve the atmosphere in which they learn.

The bottom line is, show them you are concerned! Give them a safe and happy environment in which to learn – schools filled with laughter, learning and love. Be firm, be fair and be fun.

Thank you for your service to all the students in our public schools. You are appreciated more than you will ever know. You all deserve an honorable recognition for that service – this School Board Recognition Month and every month – and my prayer is that you will be richly blessed through your service as a member of your local board of education.

“Aspire to inspire before you expire.”

Editor’s Note: Used by permission of the Kentucky School Boards Association. The “President’s Perspective” was published in the January 2018 issue KSBA’s Kentucky School Advocate.