(FRANKFORT, KY) — Jennifer Ginn, assistant director of communications for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), was named the recipient of the 2023 Kevin M. Noland-Mary Ann Miller Award at the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) meeting on Dec. 7.
The award recognizes a KDE employee for significant service to Kentucky’s public schools and for providing inspiration for education. KDE staff submit nominations for the award.
“Jennifer is a real asset to our agency, but more importantly, to all the students, families and educators across the Commonwealth,” said Kentucky Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney. “She thinks of our students, teachers and stakeholders every day – always focused on moving education in Kentucky forward.”
The award is named for Kevin M. Noland, who served as KDE’s deputy commissioner and general counsel, and as interim commissioner on four occasions, and Mary Ann Miller, who served KDE as a program consultant, staff assistant, policy adviser, director of the KBE and chief of staff.
Ginn has worked at KDE for eight years. She was nominated for the award by her supervisor, Toni Konz Tatman, KDE’s chief communications officer.
“Although Jennifer is often behind the scenes, I can’t think of anyone else who works more directly with school districts, community partners, parents and/or co-workers through leadership, customer service, teamwork and community service,” said Tatman.
“She works tirelessly to help our schools and districts provide excellent communication and promote the great work that takes place across our agency and in our classrooms. She sees all of KDE’s publications as opportunities to illustrate the work the department is doing to serve the Commonwealth’s districts and students.”
Established in 2013 to recognize Noland’s 18 years of service, the KBE added Miller’s name to the award in 2017 to honor her 30 years of service to KDE. Miller passed away in 2021.
“It’s a pleasure to be here today to acknowledge the Kevin Noland and Mary Ann Miller Award being presented to another distinguished KDE employee for their significant service to Kentucky’s public schools and in providing inspiration for education to the current and future staff and educators of the Commonwealth,” said Ed Miller, Mary Ann Miller’s husband.
Ginn, who worked with Miller, said there are many people at KDE who work behind the scenes as she does. She thanked all of those employees for helping her do her job.
“Thank you for recognizing me,” she added.
A selection committee made up of a cross-section of KDE employees reviewed and rated this year’s nominations based on the following criteria:
- An individual who focuses on the mission for student proficiency;
- An individual who is an excellent ambassador for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, KDE and Kentucky’s schools;
- An individual who is knowledgeable and productive; and
- An individual who has made an impact in one of the following areas: school districts, community partners, parents and/or co-workers through leadership, customer service, teamwork and community service.
Although Ginn is involved in all aspects of communications, her knowledge is always critical in the annual release of the Kentucky School Report Card.
“One of the areas Jennifer thoroughly understands and can explain is the Kentucky School Report Card,” Tatman said. “Jennifer participates in a number of cross-agency teams in support of high-quality and equitable programs across KDE, with the goal of increasing student proficiency and overall success.”
Each day, Ginn performs journalistic research, edits and revises correspondence for the commissioner and materials for publication, and serves as an editor of stories on Kentucky Teacher, KDE’s main publication. She also helps write editorials, columns and talking points for the commissioner and state board members.
“Again, because of her knowledge base of the department, Jennifer often knows how best to help people in a quick and appropriate manner,” Tatman said. “She also has great ideas on how to connect with families about the agency’s programs, and collaborate with different offices to help share the work taking place in our districts and impacting students.”
Last year, Ginn helped lead a campaign through Granicus, the agency’s online newsletter and engagement system. As part of this effort, about 1,700 people indicating an interest in becoming a teacher signed up to receive a newsletter and additional information.
Ginn regularly works with team members across the agency to ensure correct information is being released in a timely manner. She is always working to find ways to build relationships with media and other stakeholders, Tatman said.
A resident of Winchester, Ginn and her husband, Bob, have two sons, and the family has three cats and three dogs.
Ginn joins other previous Kevin M. Noland-Mary Ann Miller Award winners, including:
- 2022: Bill Buchanan, an early learning adviser in KDE’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning;
- 2021: Reeca Carter, state adviser for the Family Career and Community Leaders of America and an education vocational program consultant in KDE’s Office of Career and Technical Education;
- 2020: Gretta Hylton, associate commissioner, KDE’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning;
- 2019: Kiley Whitaker, assistant director of KDE’s Division of Technical Schools and Continuous Improvement;
- 2018: Amanda Ellis, KDE chief academic officer and deputy commissioner;
- 2017: Jonathon Bogar, welding instructor, Belfry Area Technology Center;
- 2016: Laura Arnold, associate commissioner, KDE’s Office of Career and Technical Education;
- 2015: No award presented;
- 2014: Rhonda Sims, director, KDE’s Division of Assessment Support and Research;
- 2013: Mary Ann Miller, policy adviser for the commissioner and the KBE;
- 2012: Lisa Gross, director, KDE Division of Communications;
- 2011: No award presented;
- 2010: Sally Sugg, director, KDE’s Division of District 180; and
- 2009: Linda Holbrook, state Reading First coordinator.