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Local School Board members chosen to serve on Alabama Association

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At the close of the Dec. 5-7 Alabama Association of School Boards Convention, four school board members will take their seats on the AASB Board of Directors. They are Donald Nichols of the Perry County school board for District 2, Gwendolyn Harris-Brooks of Lanett for District 4, Kathy Landers of Talladega County for District 6 and Karen Duke of Decatur for District 8.

     It will be Nichols' second two-year term, Landers' first full term and the first full term for Harris-Brooks and Dukes, who are both completing unexpired terms caused by vacancies. Two two-year terms for district directors are allowed under AASB bylaws. Neither candidate stood for election by AASB member boards since they had no opposition.

     District directors are the representative voice of the association's nine geographical districts. Currently seated directors are District 1's James Woosley of Satsuma, District 3's Jimmy Rodgers of Covington County, District 5's Suzy Baker of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, District 7's Belinda McRae of Marion County and District 9's Dr. Jennie Robinson of Huntsville.

     "Don, Gwen and Karen have proven they understand the value of our work to develop school board leaders who are committed to good governance, excellent boardmanship and student success," said AASB President Steve Foster of the Lowndes County school board. "We welcome them back and are excited to have Kathy aboard, as well. Each brings skills, expertise and a passion for education that will be assets to this board."  

     Nichols has been a Perry County school board member since 2004 and took an active role in AASB's Pre-Kindergarten Committee and its Leader to Leader grassroots advocacy network. He served in 2012 and 2013 on the AASB Multicultural Committee and in 2012 advocated for public education as part of the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network. Nichols is a Master level school board member in the AASB School Board Member Academy. He represents school boards in Autauga, Bibb, Butler, Chilton, Choctaw, Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry and Wilcox counties and in Demopolis, Linden and Selma. He is married to Brenda and is a father and grandfather.

     Harris-Brooks has been a member of the Lanett school board since 2000 and is board president. Her active involvement in AASB includes her service on the Multicultural Committee and as a Leader to Leader advocate. She has also advocated for public education as part of the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network. Harris-Brooks has reached the academy's Master level. The boards in District 4 are Alexander City, Auburn, Lanett, Opelika, Phenix City, Pike Road, Roanoke, Tallassee and the Department of Youth Services, as well as Bullock, Chambers, Clay, Coosa, Elmore, Lee, Macon, Montgomery, Randolph, Russell and Tallapoosa counties.

     In her civic life, she has served as president of the Alabama State University Valley Alumni Chapter, a board member for the H. Grady Bradshaw Library, a treasurer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chambers County and a member of the Chambers County Children Policy Council. She earned a bachelor's degree from Alabama State University and owns a tax office and employment service. She is the mother of Dau-NeKissta Williams and grandparent of Jalen and Kenda. 

     Duke, president of the Decatur school board, represents the District 8 school boards in Athens, Cullman, Decatur, Florence, Haleyville, Hartselle, Muscle Shoals, Russellville, Sheffield and Tuscumbia. She also represents the county school boards in Colbert, Cullman, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence Limestone, Morgan and Winston counties. In 2012, Duke was selected as an All-State School Board Member, AASB's highest honor. Also in 2012, her name was placed on the AASB academy's Masters Honor Roll.

     Duke has served on the Decatur board since 2000. She is a former Morgan County Schools classroom teacher and former Decatur City School System administrator. She has been actively involved in the Decatur City Schools Foundation, the Enrichment Center Board of Directors and the Decatur/Morgan County Chamber of Commerce. 
     Duke has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Athens State University. Her elementary education master's degree and administrative certification are from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She and her husband, David, attend the First Baptist Church of Decatur and have two daughters, Audrey and Ashley. 
     Landers
has been a member of the Talladega County school board since 2010 and is the board's vice president. She represents District 6 school boards, including Anniston, Attalla, Calhoun County, Cherokee County, Cleburne County, DeKalb County, Etowah County, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Jacksonville, Oxford, Pell City, Piedmont, St. Clair County, Sylacauga, Talladega, Talladega County and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.

     Landers earned her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Montevallo and a master's degree in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She retired from teaching in 2002 after 26 years of service in the Talladega County School System. She is currently employed by SAFE Family Services as a homeless prevention case manager and as an academic coach in the Bridges after-school program. She and her husband, Willie, attend First Baptist Church in Childersburg and are the parents of two children, Jim and Tiffanie.

     Outgoing District 6 Director Dr. Tony Bolton of Oxford will be honored at the close of AASB's Annual Convention. Convention headquarters will be the Hyatt Regency-The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, and the 2013 theme is The 3 R's: Ready. Resilient. Responsible. Sessions will address student poverty, teacher accountability, resilience through challenging times, education law, education funding and more.

     The School Board Member Academy is AASB's "school" for school board members. Completing the core curriculum is a prerequisite for reaching the academy's fourth and Master levels. The Alabama Association of School Boards represents all of the state's public local school boards. Since 1949, AASB has served education leaders and the interests of local decision making in public education. The association's mission is to develop excellent school board leaders through quality training, advocacy and services. Visit www.AlabamaSchoolBoards.org for more.

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