New board members share thoughts on Ky. education

0
2627
New Kentucky Board of Education members Debra Cook and Samuel Hinkle were sworn in by Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd during the board's annual retreat in Frankfort.  Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 6, 2014
New Kentucky Board of Education members Debra Cook and Samuel Hinkle were sworn in by Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd during the board’s annual retreat in Frankfort.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 6, 2014

The two newest members of the Kentucky Board of Education, Samuel D. Hinkle IV and Debra L. Cook, were sworn in last month. We asked for their thoughts on education in Kentucky and what they hope to achieve as board members.Their responses follow.

Samuel Hinkle
Samuel Hinkle

Hinkle, of Shelbyville, is an attorney with Stoll Keenon Ogden.  He served on the Shelby County school board and is a former board chairman. He is a board member of the Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence. His term ends April 14, 2018.

                                                                                                                                  Q: Why were you interested in serving on the Kentucky Board of Education?

A: Kentucky’s public schools have played a significant role in my life and the life of my family. My children received excellent educations in Kentucky’s public schools, and I want to assist in making that same level of education available to other children. I also believe a good school system is the single most important thing Kentucky can do to address problems of economic development, public health and crime.

Q: What impact do you hope to have on the board?

A: I hope to be a contributing member in the board’s focus on improving student achievement throughout Kentucky.

Q: What personal trait will serve you best as a board member?

A: I am committed to improving student achievement in our public schools and making them the best in the country.

Q: Why is what you do as a board member important to teachers?

A: The board can provide strong leadership to assure teachers that their efforts are valued. The board should do all that it can to facilitate the efforts the teachers make in the classroom.

Q: Other than more money, what do Kentucky schools need most?

A: All Kentucky schools need to focus, first and foremost, on student achievement and college career readiness.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles facing Kentucky’s schools?

A: Lack of community commitment to student achievement and college career readiness.

Q: What small change would have the greatest impact on Kentucky’s schools?

A: Increased focus on preschool education and increased foreign language study in elementary school.

I have learned that it takes a commitment from local school boards, school administrators and teachers to make significant changes in school performance.

Q: What major change would you make to improve Kentucky schools?

A: Change the tax system so that it is not so reliant on local property taxes.

Q: What have you gained from other education-related (such as local school board or Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence) positions you have held that will help K-12 students leave high school college and career ready?

A: I have learned that it takes a commitment from local school boards, school administrators and teachers to make significant changes in school performance.

Q: Other than parents and teachers, what has had the biggest effect on Kentucky students’ education in the past few years?

A: I believe there is a growing reluctance to provide the funding needed for at-risk students.

Q: What else would you like Kentucky’s educators to know about you?

A: I believe that a strong public education system is essential if our state is to grow and prosper.

 

Debra Cook
Debra Cook

Cook, of Corbin, is a retired educator who is serving the remainder of the unexpired term ending April 14, 2016. A 16-year member of the Corbin Independent school board until 2009, Cook is a retired administrative judge for unemployment claims.

Q: Why were you interested in serving on the Kentucky Board of Education?

A: My passion has always revolved around kids. To be involved in the education process is a natural progression for me.

Q: What impact do you hope to have on the board?

A: I want to ensure that there are no groups of children overlooked.

Q: What personal trait will serve you best as a board member?

A: The ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently is the gift of discernment. I believe that it is a gift from God and one that will benefit my participation in board of education decisions.

Q: Why is what you do as a board member important to teachers?

A: It is important for teachers to have clear and precise yet reasonable and attainable standards so that schools and teachers may align their curriculum. Providing that road map will help ensure that all Kentucky students are on the same educational journey.

Q: Other than more money, what do Kentucky  schools need most?

A: Lack of funding is a huge hindrance to our schools. However, another strong hindrance is the educational climate in Kentucky. There is a great number of families in Kentucky who do not see the importance of education. If all Kentucky parents made education a higher priority in the lives of their children, the climate would change, teachers would be supported rather than seen as an enemy, and parents would demonstrate a more hands-on approach to the education of their children.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles facing Kentucky’s schools?

A: Lack of funding is the biggest obstacles facing Kentucky’s schools. Too many of our facilities are in poor shape, too many of our schools have outdated textbooks and too little technological innovations, too many of our teachers and other school staff members have gone too long without increases in salary that at least keep up with the increased cost of living.

Q: What small change would have the greatest impact on Kentucky’s schools?

A: An increase in the number of parents who fully support the educational system in Kentucky would have a great impact on Kentucky schools.

Q: What major change would you make to improve Kentucky schools?

A: If I had a magic wand … my first order of business would be to fully fund Kentucky schools.

If all Kentucky parents made education a higher priority in the lives of their children, the climate would change, teachers would be supported rather than seen as an enemy, and parents would demonstrate a more hands-on approach to the education of their children.

Q: What have you gained from other education-related (such as local school board or Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence) positions you have held will help K-12 students leave high school college-and career-ready?

A: The knowledge I gained while serving for 17 years on a local school board has allowed exposure to the structure of schools in Kentucky, has allowed me to have some insight into the budgeting side of education, has made me aware of the impact that each school employee can have on the educational process (from the bus driver to the superintendent), has made me aware of what a battle schools face in funding necessary improvements, and has allowed me to see the beauty of compromise. Most significantly, while serving on a local board I saw so many students overcome so many obstacles to become a productive adult in our state. It is made me realize that no student should be overlooked or discounted.

Q: Other than parents and teachers, what has had the biggest effect on Kentucky students’ education in the past few years?

A: Looking back over the history of education in Kentucky, the past 25 years has seen the passing of the Kentucky Educational Reform Act. Our legislative body invested time and money in moving our educational system forward when seen on a national level. It gave us our site-based councils so that parents and teachers could partner with administrators in making school decisions. It gave us family resource centers which assist students and their families during times of need. In more recent years, technological innovations and improvements have had one of the biggest effects on education and on Kentucky’s students that we have ever seen. These innovations have allowed us to figuratively remove the walls of the school and expose students to the world, all at the touch of a keyboard.

Q: What else would you like Kentucky’s educators to know about you?

A: I want Kentucky’s educators to know that I have walked in their shoes. I have experience as a classroom teacher and I have a hand on the pulse of today’s teachers through my daily contact with three members of our family who are in the classroom day in and day out! I want Kentucky’s educators to know that I respect them for what they do, for the investments they are making in the lives of Kentucky’s kids, the sacrifices they make in both time and money by making a choice to be an educator.

LEAVE A REPLY