Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby gathered with their counterparts from across the state in Nashville on February 22nd for a day of legislative networking at TSBA's annual "Day on the Hill" event. This year, featured program speakers included Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, and House Education Committee Chair Richard Montgomery.
"Day on the Hill" is designed for school board members and directors of schools to study pending education legislation and discuss priorities with local legislators. The event began with a breakfast at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel and was followed by visits to legislators' offices and committee hearings.
"Day on the Hill" provides a unique opportunity for school board members throughout the state to promote public education and seek assistance from the General Assembly with one collective voice", said TSBA President and Oneida Special school board member Nancy Williamson. "A quality public education system is essential to the future economic development of our state, and every citizen has a vested interest in its success. We look forward to partnering with the General Assembly to continue improving the quality of schools in Tennessee."
In addition to Director Willoughby, Charles Robinson, chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Education attended along with Kenny Rhody, vice-chair, and John David Foutch, first district member.
Rhody said the "Day on the Hill" provides a great opportunity for local board members to exchange ideas with state legislators. "To sit down with your elected representatives and discuss our needs with them in detail is so important", said Rhody. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease theme is still important when dealing with funding or the lack thereof. If we don't stand up for what is right for our children, who will?. We must provide what they need for their future, and ours. To bring back federal and state dollars to our county and state is what has worked well for DeKalb County for 40 plus years and we must keep bringing our money back to work for us. The local tax base should not and cannot fund everything our kids need. That's why working with our elected representatives and senators is so important now."
In addition to serving as Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Education, Robinson is a member of the Tennessee School Board Association Board of Directors, serving as the board's TLN representative. Robinson is also a Master School Board member.
During the recent 2010 TSBA Annual Convention, Robinson was named to the All Tennessee School Board.
Each year, TSBA recognizes five to seven outstanding school board members as members of the annual All Tennessee School Board. These individuals demonstrate the dedication, professionalism, and vision needed to take public education to the highest level.
Rhody, meanwhile, recently earned the designation of Master Board Member, having reached the fifth and highest level in TSBA's Boardsmanship Program. The program is designed to recognize school board members for participation in board activities beyond the local level through a commitment to training, willingness to participate in workshops and conferences and a volunteer spirit.
To obtain Level V, board members must earn at least 250 credits in three areas, including attendance at school board academies; participation in activities such as the TSBA Annual Convention, leadership conferences and workshops; and completion of activities such as speaking to civic clubs or meeting with legislators. Candidates must complete a portfolio detailing their accomplishments.
Rhody was also recently elected to serve as the Upper Cumberland Federal Relations Network district coordinator at the TSBA Fall District Meeting. The FRN promotes communication with the Tennessee Congressional delegation to explain the impact of federal education policy on local school districts.