The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) announced April 20 that Joud Dahleh of Florence will be the next public school student to hold a seat on the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE).
Dahleh, a sophomore at the Ignite Institute in Boone County, was appointed to a one-year term as a non-voting member and will represent her fellow students throughout Kentucky. As a non-voting member of the board, she will not vote on official matters, but will provide input on policy decisions that affect the state’s public schools. Dahleh also will be joining the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council.
“Kentucky’s students are who our education system is designed for and they bring such a valuable voice,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “They often bring light to problems and offer solutions that simply don’t occur to adults. Joud’s membership on the board is invaluable as Kentucky continues to move forward in its commitment to student engagement and empowerment.”
Seventeen students residing in the 4th Congressional District successfully completed the application procedure and met all the criteria for consideration, including submitting parent and school support statements.
After reviewing all the applications, KDE’s Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council application review special committee recommended three candidates to the KBE for consideration. A special committee of KBE members reviewed the three candidates and selected Dahleh as the recommended student to serve on the KBE.
Dahleh, 16, says it is an honor to be selected as the second public school student to hold a position on the KBE and hopes to use this opportunity to provide the representation she always wanted as a child.
“Arab representation has always been minimal in school settings, and it wasn’t until I reached high school that someone recognized that part of me,” she said. “I can speak on how important and influential education is and what it can do for you. I will be a prime example of how education and willpower can make you a part of something bigger than yourself.”
In her local community, Dahleh serves as a volunteer at St. Elizabeth Florence Hospital and is a peer tutor and mentor for students with disabilities. In the future, she plans to use these experiences to become a travel nurse and continue assisting those in need.
“I love helping people,” she said. “That’s always something that I loved growing up.”
A patient who recently was admitted to St. Elizabeth made a blanket and asked all the nurses and volunteers to write something special on it before the hospital discharged the patient.
“You could just tell how excited they were when each nurse or each volunteer walked into their room and signed their blanket,” Dahleh recalled. “They were just really happy to be helped and really happy that there was a community who cared for them. I want other people to be able to feel that way.”
Now, as a member of the KBE, she plans to bring that same feeling of community to all students across the Commonwealth.
“My biggest goal is just to represent students,” she said. “Education is a topic that I am very passionate about. If education changes, I want to be engaged in the process. You cannot make a difference by sitting around and waiting for someone to make it for you. As students, we often forget how important our voice is and the power we hold. The moment we utilize our voice is when we understand what we are capable of.”
KBE Chair Lu S. Young, who has been a champion of student empowerment during her time on the board, said she is excited to work alongside Dahleh and continue providing opportunities for the Commonwealth’s students to have their voices heard.
“I am delighted to welcome Joud as the next student member of the Kentucky Board of Education,” she said. “Ensuring that a student has a seat at the table as we make critical decisions for public schools is the right thing to do. Hearing from Joud, amplifying the voices of her peers, will only make those decisions more powerful and more relevant.”
Dahleh will begin her role with the KBE on July 1. Her term will expire on June 30, 2023.