Jason Reeves, professor of education at Georgetown College, was presented with the Robinson Award for Diversity and Equity in Public Education at the Kentucky Board of Education’s (KBE’s) regular meeting on April 20.
“To now be included in the list of distinguished people and organizations who have been given this award for their incredible work is truly an honor of a lifetime,” said Reeves.
Created in 2004, KBE presents the award annually to an individual or group in Kentucky for outstanding leadership, commitment and service in promoting equity and opportunities to learn at high levels for all Kentucky students.
The award is named for Samuel Robinson, a member of the KBE from 1991 to 2004 who made diversity and equity in public education his life’s work. A noted educator and civil rights leader, Robinson began his career in Louisville in 1960. Robinson also was a well-known community figure in Louisville during the Civil Rights era.
Reeves said this award serves as a reminder that the work of inclusiveness and equity is ongoing, and he now has even more responsibility to advance this cause on a daily basis.
Over the past 18 years, Reeves has promoted equity and opportunities to learn at high levels for all Kentucky students as both a member of the P-16 community and as a continuously engaged community member, said his nominator.
As a former director for the Knox County/KCEOC Summer Food Services Program, Reeves helped grow the number of students under the age of 18 who received a nutritious meal in Knox and the surrounding counties through the summer months by 15% during his three-year tenure.
He also increased the number of drop-off sites, meal preparation volunteers and meals made daily by 11%. By the end of his tenure, the food program went from an average of 428 meals served a day to roughly 755 meals.
Currently in his role as school board member for Barbourville Independent, Reeves has “championed equality for students through support of financial initiatives aimed at opening more opportunities for typically low-income, high-risk students,” said his nominator. As a result, Reeves’ support has led to a 98% rate of students taking Advanced Placement exams over the past three years.
Reeves received the Karem Award for Excellence in Education Policy from the KBE in 2018, an award given to state policymakers, education leaders or citizens who have contributed to the improvement of education through venues such as national commissions, task forces or other significant boards and organizations. Recipients demonstrate outstanding leadership and impact on education policy and the educational system and exhibit a commitment to work collaboratively with different stakeholders.
“My life would be completely different had it not been for access to public education and especially public school educators,” Reeves said. “They fought for me every day and made sure I had as much opportunity through equitable practices as they could provide. The fact that I now support public schools in their efforts to empower all students through an accessible education is the best part of my work.”
Reeves also has been a vocal and hands-on supporter of the work of the Families All Together for Students (FAST) program through Berea College within Knox and the surrounding counties. FAST engages families in student success through ongoing coaching, involvement and college preparation for families and their students.
Reeves previously served as a volunteer for the Kentucky Education Association to provide free professional development for P-12 teachers in Knox, Whitley, Bell, Harlan, Laurel and Pulaski counties in the area of trauma-informed teaching and learning.
Reeves also has worked very closely with the Knox Promise Neighborhood initiative to provide community Poverty Simulation Workshops for area nursing and education students to inform their efforts in working with various levels of socioeconomic clients in Kentucky hospitals and schools.
“There are so many organizations that have been a part of my journey thus far,” he said. “In particular, I want to acknowledge Southeast/South-Central Educational Association, Kentucky Education Association, Kentucky Communities Economic Opportunities Council, Kentucky School Boards Association, and Georgetown College for their personal and professional support and spirit of collaboration.”