The Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA) named its finalists for the 2021 Fred Award.

  • Donnie Chambers (school resource officer, Breckinridge County Schools)

After retiring from the Louisville Metro Police Department, Deputy Donnie Chambers joined the Breckinridge County Sheriff’s Department to continue giving back to his
community. Soon after, he began working with school administrators to form a school resource officer program.

Headshot of Donnie Chambers

Donnie Chambers

“From his first day on the job, Deputy Chambers exhibited a true love for students,” said Mike Harned, chief of student services. “In front of the entire student body, he pledged to work tirelessly every day to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Since that day, he has been on a mission to make certain everyone who walks onto campus feels safe. His goal is to build strong, positive relationships with all stakeholders. As a result of his efforts and tremendous attitude, Deputy Chambers has earned the respect and trust of nearly everyone in the local education and law enforcement community.”

Chambers takes advantage of every opportunity to have a positive conversation with students, staff and parents. He has become a father figure to many students who do not have a strong positive male role model in their lives and he takes that role very seriously. He works hard to build positive relationships with students who have had bad experiences with police officers. In addition to his duties as a school resource officer, it is not unusual to see Chambers wiping down tables at lunch, taking out the trash, helping maintenance staff, watching a class when a teacher needs to step out, shooting basketball with special needs students in the gym, reading a book to elementary students, working concessions at a game or volunteering in any area where he can offer support. Whatever needs to be done,
Deputy Chambers is the first to volunteer.

  • Daniel Lyne (custodian, Daviess County Schools)

“Daniel Lyne shows up for his job as custodian at East View Elementary School each day with a positive and encouraging mindset,” said Superintendent Matt Robbins. “His attitude sets an amazing example for both students and staff. He is always there to brighten up the moment and goes out of his way to serve any students or staff who need him. His service dog, Keeta, is an important part of the school family too. She is with Mr. Daniel each day and always puts a smile on students’ faces.”

Picture of a man sitting on a stool, with a dog in front of him.

Daniel Lyne

Even though Lyne is a night time custodian and only sees students in person for a few minutes per day, he brings joy to the students and staff each day. Each evening he sends an email to the students. He shares messages that encourage and gently challenge students to embrace character, values and responsibility, and includes a daily joke and bonus points challenge (for the cleanest classroom). He takes the time to write a personal response to every letter students leave for him, making connections that not only motivate students to do their best in the classroom, but to become young men and ladies of character and integrity. Through this, he is not only creating relationships, but is instilling skills and values that will last a lifetime.

Even when schools were virtual, Lyne took the time to send videos via ClassDojo to students. He shared how much he missed them, expected them to get their work done, and to continue spreading kindness and serve others.

  • Kay Bowman (instructional assistant, Franklin County Schools)
Picture of a woman standing in a school hallway holding a certificate and a book.

Kay Bowman

Kay Bowman, or Mrs. B as she is known by students at Peaks Mill Elementary, is described by her nominator, Principal Cassie House, as “an instructional aid by title, but the lifter of spirits by trade.” Each day, she is one of the first to arrive at school. With an obvious love and vigor for instruction, Mrs. B leads reading groups throughout the day, but her biggest role is working with special needs students to support their reading skills. Whether in-person or virtual learning, staff and students have come to learn they can always count on Mrs. B. She took it upon herself to learn the Google Meets platform so she could continue working and interacting with students who were virtual and even led the way for the rest of the district to use the process she created.

“Wherever students are is where Mrs. B wants to be,” said House. “Whether it’s an event after school or on the weekend, students know they can count on her to be there cheering them on.”

Mrs. B invests in Peaks Mill Elementary without asking or expecting compensation. When schools went on virtual learning, she was concerned about students getting meals because some of the families did not have transportation to get to the drop off sites. So, she organized a group of teachers and staff to follow buses and deliver food to those who were not on the school’s routes. Even when dealing with personal health problems, she kept the students’ needs first. When her health would not allow her to deliver food any longer, she still found ways to run groups or sessions with students virtually through Google Classroom.

The Fred program, now in its 14th year, honors support staff who are the heart and soul of public schools. KASA is proud to partner with author Mark Sanborn and American Fidelity to recognize Freds across the state. This year’s awards will expand the program’s reach to 43 school districts statewide.

The Fred Award Program draws in nominations from school districts across the Commonwealth. The award, inspired by Fred Shea, the postman who became the subject of Mark Sanborn’s national best seller, “The Fred Factor,” recognizes non-administrative staff statewide whose daily efforts are deemed extraordinary and integral to a positive learning atmosphere in their school communities. Finalists for this award must embody four guiding principles: makes a positive difference each day; has a heart for people; changes ordinary moments into memorable ones; and leads by example.

“Freds are change agents who help determine the culture in their schools,” said KASA Executive Director Rhonda Caldwell. “They freely share the gift of encouragement to those who need it most. They give immeasurably more often at personal expense and sacrifice. They are quiet leaders with unofficial titles who unknowingly weave a legacy of greatness around them.”

A film crew visited each finalist’s district to capture the spirit of their service. The video will be used by the judging panel, representing education leaders from school districts across the state, to determine the statewide winner, who will be named July 30 at KASA’s annual leadership institute in Louisville.

KASA is the largest school administrator group in Kentucky, representing more than 3,100 education leaders from across the commonwealth. Formed in 1969, KASA connects education leaders to policymakers, legislators, and other interest groups and provides numerous benefits and services to Kentucky’s school administrators.