Advisory committees give a voice to stakeholders

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Felix Akojie, member of the Paducah Independent Board of Education, and Bryan Regenauer, an Oldham County parent, discuss goals for gifted students with Henderson County High School principal Kim Marshall and Southside Elementary School (Shelby County) principal Susie Burkhardt during the Kentucky Department of Education Gifted Advisory Council meeting March 2, 2011. Photo by Amy Wallot
Felix Akojie, member of the Paducah Independent Board of Education, and Bryan Regenauer, an Oldham County parent, discuss goals for gifted students with Henderson County High School principal Kim Marshall and Southside Elementary School (Shelby County) principal Susie Burkhardt during the Kentucky Department of Education Gifted Advisory Council meeting March 2, 2011. Photo by Amy Wallot

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

Some are teachers. Some are administrators. Some hail from the private sector. While they have different backgrounds, they meet for the same purpose – advising state education policy-makers.

In the case of the Gifted Advisory Council (GAC), the 19 members who make up the group are tasked with forming and offering recommendations related to services for gifted and talented students in Kentucky.

Dina Chaffin, gifted and talented coordinator for the Lawrence County school district, is a member of the GAC.

“Gifted and talented students have unique academic, social and emotional needs that are often overlooked,” Chaffin said. “I hope that our work helps remove the barriers that prevent our gifted and talented students from making continuous progress and developing their talents to the fullest.”

The Gifted Advisory Committee is just one of 17 advisory committees facilitated by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

All committees meet throughout a year to make recommendations to Commissioner Terry Holliday, the Kentucky Board of Education, the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) or a combination of the three.

Council advice is integral in the policy decision-making process.

“I hope that the work done by the advisory council helps all stakeholders accept and support the idea that gifted and talented students deserve learning opportunities that address each student’s unique interest, needs and readiness levels,” Chaffin said.

Chaffin, appointed to the committee in July 2010, represents elementary teachers. Others on the committee represent parents or EPSB.

In a recent meeting, the Gifted Advisory Committee discussed topics that ranged from the specifics of the Commonwealth Diploma to how sometimes parents aren’t fully aware of course options for students.

“The meetings provide a great opportunity for our members to explore issues related to the needs of gifted and talented students from different perspectives,” Chaffin said. “We are a very diverse group of people from communities all around Kentucky, which sets the stage for engaging discussions on issues important to our state’s gifted and talented student population.

“The meetings also have been a great networking opportunity,” she added. “The knowledge I have gained from veteran professionals who have worked in the field of gifted education much longer than I has been invaluable as I work to improve the gifted and talented program in my home district.”

Ruth Ann Sweazy, a National Board Certified Teacher and Milken educator at Spencer County Elementary School, is in her second year as a member of the Teacher Advisory Council.

“This committee is focused on improving student learning while providing the support and resources to the classroom teachers,” Sweazy said. “The Teacher Advisory Council is a ‘think tank’ for the commissioner and KDE staff.”

The Teacher Advisory Council has 16 teachers as members. Together, they account for 233 years of teaching experience.

“We may be limited in the number of teachers serving on the committee, but it is a strong voice for all teachers at all grade levels across the state,” Sweazy said. “The Teacher Advisory Council has not changed the way I teach; however, it has confirmed what I believe about (the importance of) teaching and learning.”

Sweazy appreciates the opportunity to act on behalf of her fellow teachers.

“As I network with teachers, I am able to hear many ideas and concerns regarding education and student learning,” Sweazy said. “The Teacher Advisory Council provides an opportunity to express that information.

“It also offers two-way communications between the commissioner, KDE staff and the classrooms across Kentucky. Commissioner Holliday and his staff are constantly working to develop projects and ideas to enhance student achievement. It is vital to generate feedback and discussion with teachers who will be implementing this work.”

Here is more information about the 17 committees and councils.

KDE advisory committees
Alternative Education Advisory Council (AEAC)
KDE contact – Sherri Clusky
AEAC consists of members from KDE, school districts, Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children and the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. The council helps develop policies and guidelines for alternative programs. The council also reviews and updates the action plan for alternative education.

Commissioner’s Raising Achievement, Closing Gaps Council
KDE contact –
Claude Christian
28 members

Committee on Mathematics Achievement
KDE contact –
Michael Miller
25 members 

Early Childhood Development Authority
KDE contact –
Annette Bridges
16 members

Gifted Advisory Council
KDE contact
– Greg Finkbonner
19 members

Kentucky Community Education State Advisory Council (KCESAC)
KDE contact – Monica Simpson
KCESAC members are appointed by the governor. They advise the commissioner and state board of education concerning the development of administrative regulations and policies for community education throughout the state.

Local School Board Advisory Council
KDE contact – Terry Holliday
The Local School Board Member Advisory Council consists of the 27 members of the Kentucky School Boards Association Board of Directors. The council meets at least quarterly with the commissioner to provide board of education insights, comments and suggestions regarding state programs and/or agency actions.

Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC)
KDE contact – David Cook
LSAC members are appointed by the legislature. Seven members represent each of the Supreme Court districts, and four members represent the state at-large. They advise the commissioner and state board concerning the development of administrative regulations and policies.

Parents Advisory Council
KDE contact
– Shaun Murphy
31 members

Principals Advisory Council
KDE contact
– Michael Dailey
26 members

Read to Achieve Steering Committee
KDE contact
– Saundra Hamon
13 members

School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council
KDE contact
– Rhonda Sims
17 members

State Advisory Panel on Exceptional Children
KDE contact
– Larry Taylor
21 members

State Textbook Commission
KDE contact
– Kathy Mansfield
10 members

Superintendents Advisory Council
KDE contact – David Cook
40 members
The Superintendents’ Advisory Council gives the commissioner advice and input on matters concerning education policy. The council has 40 members and consists of two representatives selected by each educational cooperative; Kentucky Association of School Superintendents officers, 17 regional representatives and executive director; and the president of the Kentucky Association of Educational Cooperatives.

Teacher Advisory Council
KDE contact – Donna Melton
The Teacher Advisory Council provides advice and counsel to the commissioner about topics of interest to teachers, including teaching standards, policies and procedures, and ensuring that the achievement level is raised for all schools and every student. The Teacher Advisory Council includes elementary, middle, high school, alternative and vocational teachers from subject areas and grade levels throughout Kentucky.

Writing Program Advisory Committee (WPAC)
KDE contact – Cindy Parker
WPAC makes recommendations to the board of education on methods of integrating writing into the curriculum; on teacher training programs and workshops designed to facilitate the effective teaching of writing; and on money allotted for teacher professional development and school grants through the Kentucky Writing Program.

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