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Local school board members recognized

 Local school board members from southeastern Alabama were among the honorees recognized at the Alabama Association of School Boards’ annual awards luncheon held Dec. 6 at the Hyatt-Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel. The luncheon was held as part of AASB’s Annual Convention, which drew more than 500 school board members from across the state to Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 5-7.

Former Eufaula City Schools board member, Louise Conner, was honored as a recipient of the 2019 All-State School Board Member Award, AASB’s highest recognition for past or present school board members who have demonstrated exemplary leadership.

Conner was among 42 local school board members – and 318 school board members statewide – who were recognized for advancing in the AASB School Board Member Academy, a school for school board members.

“AASB commends Conner for her exemplary boardmanship and for demonstrating the highest ideals of school board service,” said AASB President Gwen Harris-Brooks of the Lanett City Board of Education. “She and our other southeastern Alabama honorees have proven they understand the importance of honing their educational leadership skills, and this recognition is well deserved.”

Conner’s fellow board members described her as a compassionate, outspoken leader known for her honesty and sense of humor.

“She’s one that makes decisions based on what’s best for the student population,” said Eufaula school board vice president, Otis Hill. “She wants to make sure that the students are getting what they need so they can be successful.”

Alabama State Rep. Berry Forte said Conner is an advocate “for the whole community, not just the school system.”

AASB has nine geographic districts. District 3 includes the county school boards of Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike and the city school boards of Andalusia, Daleville, Dothan, Elba, Enterprise, Eufaula, Geneva, Opp, Ozark and Troy.

Conner served two decades on the Eufaula City School Board of Education, from 1999-2019. As an active participant in the AASB Academy, she earned more than 345 training hours to reach the Master level.

The awards luncheon was a highlight of AASB’s Dec. 5-7 convention, themed “Unleash the Champion Within.” The event opened Dec. 5 with the association’s annual delegate assembly and featured several inspiring general sessions and information-packed breakout sessions on Dec. 6 and 7 designed to help participants strengthen their boardmanship and leadership skills. Keynote speakers included Brad Cohen, a nationally known motivational speaker, teacher, school administrator and author who has overcome Tourette Syndrome; Ramona Smith, 2018 World Toastmasters champion and former teacher; and Rodney Robinson, 2019 National Teacher of the Year.

Below are the local District 3 board members and the levels they have achieved:

Level I (Requires 25 training hours)

  • Brandi Carr, Coffee County
  • Annie Zeigler, Crenshaw County
  • Barbara Davis, Daleville
  • Karen Simmons, Geneva
  • Mary Langford, Geneva County
  • Chris Lasseter, Houston County
  • Vince Wade, Houston County
  • Jonathan Cellon, Troy

Level I & II (Reached both levels in the same year)

  • Jimmie Fryer, Barbour County
  • Phillip Parker, Dale County
  • Rodrick Caldwell, Enterprise
  • Nicholas Bull, Ozark

Level II (Requires 50 training hours)

  • David McCalman, Andalusia
  • Eric Payne, Coffee County
  • James Barton, Covington County
  • Steven Jackson, Covington County
  • Brett Strickland, Dothan
  • Robert Doerer, Enterprise
  • Derek Warren, Geneva County
  • Justin Davis, Pike County

Level II & III (Reached both levels in the same year)

  • Mike Schmitz, Dothan

Level III (Requires 75 training hours)

  • Wendy Massey, Coffee County
  • Shannon Deloney, Dale County
  • Priscilla McKnight, Dale County
  • Dale Sutton, Dale County
  • Emanuel Davis, Henry County
  • Marty Collins, Houston County
  • David Hollinger, Houston County
  • Larry Hicks, Ozark
  • Leslie Reeder, Ozark

Level IV (Requires 100 training hours, including all eight core curriculum courses)

  • Jacqueline Davis, Barbour County
  • Dr. Ruby Jackson, Barbour County
  • Rev. Russell Clausell, Geneva

Master (Requires Level 4 plus 15 hours, including one additional core course)

  • Susan Vierkandt, Dothan, first year
  • Shirley Johnson, Barbour County, second year
  • Eddie Chambers, Henry County, fourth year
  • Jean Bush, Henry County, sixth year
  • Mary Wiggins, Henry County, sixth year
  • Dr. Greg Price, Pike County, sixth year
  • Otis Hill, Eufaula, eighth year
  • Larry Eddins, Coffee County, ninth year

Master Honor Roll (Requires completion of all four levels plus five consecutive years of earning Master recognition at any point during the member’s tenure on the board, as well as participation in one advocacy day and completion of AASB’s poverty simulation training)

  • Franklin Jones, Dothan, third year

About the AASB School Board Member Academy

Founded in 1986, AASB’s School Board Member Academy includes four achievement levels based on the number of credit hours board members earn through conferences, workshops and other training events. There are eight core courses: roles and responsibilities, policy and planning, financial accountability, the optimal learning environment, academic achievement, staff development, effective boards and relationships and community engagement. Board members who complete the core courses and the Academy’s four levels can continue their training to earn the Master School Board Member distinction and ultimately attain Master Honor Roll recognition with participation in an AASB advocacy day and an AASB-led poverty simulation.

AASB’s Academy year runs from July 1 to June 30. The Academy helps board members comply with the School Board Governance Improvement Act of 2012, which requires orientation of new board members and at least six hours of annual training. Two of those six hours must be earned from training completed as a whole school board (with at least the majority of the school board in attendance).

In the 2019 training year, Alabama’s individual school board members earned just shy of 15,201 combined training hours and more than 99 percent met or exceeded the state individual training requirement of six hours. Training hours must be earned annually and do not carry over from year to year.