The Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday presented the annual Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to co-winners – Cindy Heine, retired associate executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and Henry Webb, superintendent of Floyd Co. Schools.
Since 2004, the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award has been conferred on individuals or groups in Kentucky for outstanding leadership, commitment and service in promoting equity and opportunity to learn at high levels for all Kentucky students.
In Heine’s nomination letter, Prichard Committee Executive Director Stu Silberman and Associate Executive Director Brigitte Blom Ramsey wrote of her involvement with education: “For more than 30 years, Cindy followed the public discussion, studied the issues and engaged other parents and community members; all in support of the unfaltering belief that all children can learn at high levels.”
They cited among her accomplishments leading public town hall forums as early as 1983 that brought citizens from across Kentucky together under one agenda to improve education and student outcomes. In later years, Heine led a campaign focusing on the need for greater quality and investment in early childhood education.
Kentucky Board of Education Vice Chair Jay Parrent, in presenting the award, said Heine’s “commitment, service and leadership have helped shape Kentucky’s education policy in a way that will pay dividends for years and years to come.”
In a letter nominating Webb for the Robinson award, Pam Caudill, communication and community relations director for the Floyd schools, said, “It’s a ‘local boy makes good’ story. Dr. Webb is a lifelong resident of Floyd County and product of the school system. He has 19 years of service in education and has been superintendent for the past seven.”
Caudill wrote that during that time, the Floyd County district has moved from 145th among Kentucky public school districts to 12th as measured on K-PREP performance. It is considered a distinguished district and is among the top 25 districts statewide for college- and career-readiness.
Parrent said, “Although pleased with the statistics, Dr. Webb keeps focused on what the numbers represent: students learning more and being better prepared for life’s opportunities.”
Dr. Samuel Robinson, for whom the award is named, is a former educator, served on the Kentucky Board of Education from 1991 until 2004, and is known for being a racial and social justice advocate and for promoting the difference education can make in the lives of all students.
PAST RECIPIENTS OF THE AWARD
2004 (joint recipients) Sen. Gerald A. Neal of Louisville and the One Community, One Voice Achievement and Closing the Gap Community Committee of Fayette County
2005 Robert Smotherman, superintendent of the Bardstown Independent school district
2006 (joint recipients) Marlene Helm, Ed.D., former interim dean of the Eastern Kentucky University College of Education; and Rep. Frank Rasche of Paducah
2007 Kathy Reed, member of the Bardstown Independent School Board
2008 Laura McGrail, lead school psychologist for the Henderson County school district
2009 (joint recipients) Arriba Niños (Upward Children) program in Shelbyville and the First Baptist Church Bracktown in Fayette County2010 Helen Mountjoy, former secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
2011 Robert Sexton, former executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence (awarded posthumously)
2012 (joint recipients) Gregory Ross, Ed.D., former principal of McNabb Elementary, Paducah Independent school district; and Kern Alexander, Ed.D., former president of Murray State and Western Kentucky universities
2013 (joint recipients) The Fayette County Equity Council and Dr. Ronnie Nolan, director of the Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children (KECSAC)