- Slone’s intention is to serve as a liaison between educators and policymakers during her time on the board.
- She is sharing synopses of the board’s meetings with a Facebook group she started to keep inform educators.
By Mike Marsee
Allison Slone never saw herself as the one who speaks out.
She wasn’t that person for much of her teaching career, but her inclination toward becoming more outspoken has changed the course of her professional life and has led her to a position as the first active, full-time teacher to serve on the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE).
“I wouldn’t have seen myself as this person five years ago,” she said. “I’m more of an introvert. I’m not one to speak up, usually.”
Slone is in a position to speak up for her colleagues and her profession an ex officio member of KBE, where she said she hopes to serve as a liaison.
“To me, it’s an opportunity to help rebuild the trust that has somewhat been lost between teachers and policymakers and government officials, to be a bridge for what teachers want and what works in our schools,” Slone said.
Gov. Andy Beshear, who created Slone’s position as the board’s third nonvoting member, said he made that decision because his administration is “dedicated to putting education first and making sure every child in the Commonwealth is succeeding in the classroom.”
“That’s why Allison is such a great addition to the Kentucky Board of Education,” Beshear said. “Having a practicing teacher on the board who has such a deep understanding about how policy decisions will impact educators in the classroom will help ensure that the policies passed enable our teachers to do the best things for their students.”
Slone said it doesn’t matter to her that she doesn’t have a vote.
“Not being able to vote is not necessary in any way,” Slone said. “To me, your voice is your vote.”
Slone’s transition from introvert to extrovert began when she discovered that her son had dyslexia and she saw room for improvement in the way teachers worked with students like him.
“I figured I needed to do something to change things,” she said.
In 2016, she founded KyReads, an organization that advocates for students with dyslexia by providing educators with professional learning on dyslexia and literacy instruction. She also served on the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) dyslexia task force.
She also affected change as the founder of a Facebook group established a few years ago as a means to keep educators aware of professional development opportunities and educational resources, but became much bigger than she anticipated during the 2019 legislative sessions.
“I didn’t expect it to be more than a handful of people I know. A lot of people who are members have told me it’s become their go-to place. They appreciate the way that we’ve been able to run the group. No matter your political affiliation or beliefs, it’s for teachers,” Slone said.
Slone said the group has been beneficial for her as well.
“I think the most rewarding part of it for me is just the validation of the work and time and dedication I’ve put into advocating for public education,” she said. “It’s validation that it is important and that teachers can be leaders from their classroom.
“It’s proven that I’m here for the right reasons.”
Slone said since she has joined the board, she has shared synopses of the meetings with the Facebook group and sought feedback from its members.
“I want to give them that opportunity to interact with what’s going on, to be a part of that,” she said. “I’m hearing from teachers that that’s something they’ve always wanted but didn’t have.”
Slone, who grew up in Knott County, began her career as a special education teacher in the Rowan County schools five days after graduating from Morehead State University in 1998. She moved to McBrayer Elementary School for the start of the 2019-2020 school year after spending 20 1/2 years at Rowan County Middle School.
She holds bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and special education, a master’s degree in special education and a Rank I certification in special education from MSU.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher. I never really questioned that. My stepmother was a primary teacher for 32 years, so I got to do lots of things in school,” she said. “I was not interested in special needs students until my senior year in high school when I got to work in a special needs classroom.”
She is also a former teacher fellow and member of Hope Street Group, where she collaborated with KDE and other education groups and developed skills in survey design and implementation, and data collection and analysis.
Slone said she has “a pretty full plate” these days, but she said her first priority when it comes to her career is the students in her classroom.
“My daily goals are to come to school and teach my kids and make a difference in their lives,” she said.