Archive for the Encouragement Category

My Final Thought In Song For Tonight’s Meeting

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by Joan Graves

keep-calm-and-love-toby-mac  I find the words I long to say to my community in the lyrics of a Toby Mac song.  I ache for our school board struggling to make decisions for the common good of everybody.  But my heart also aches for those, few as they may be, who will feel disappointed.  My prayer is that we all find a way to look beyond ourselves and go back to being the family of a community.  It was Winchester that taught me the meaning of community and forever changed my life.  I pray for us to once again become the family we were meant to be. After all, as Toby Mac says, “If we’re gotta start sometime why not now?”  Well, I’ll let Toby tell you the rest.  Just know I love you Clark County – ALL of you.

If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now? If we gotta start somewhere I say here. If we gotta start sometime I say now. Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions. Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave!

Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints. Two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight. When we step across the line, we can sail across the sea to a city with one King. A city on our knees

Tonight could last forever. WE ARE 1 CHOICE FROM TOGETHERas a family. We’re family.
Oh Tonight couldn’t last forever, we are one choice from together. You & me. It’s you and me.
Stand Up Clark County & be that City on our Knees. A city willing to start here and now.

Facility Plan – What Are We Made Of?

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Encouragement, In The News, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by Joan Graves

the-future Tomorrow night the Clark County School Board will vote on which facilities plan to accept.  Each plan has its strength and its weaknesses.  Each plan will make some pleased and leave others mad.  That can be said of any facility plan in any school board room in any town USA.  Clark County will no doubt have double the emotions simply because of all we have been through prior to this point.

Our facility plan drama began years ago with a highly controversial plan cloaked in accusations of wrongdoing and corruption.  From the moment the ink was quietly placed on the contract, the deal immediately began treading water in a pool of innuendo that immediately divided the community.

It had been quite some time since several of those school board members had been challenged so apparently they were under the misguided notion they could do as they pleased.  They simply did what they had always done.  They counted on the community’s outrage to play itself out and citizens to lose their steam.  When instead the community rallied together to fight for the common good of everybody then things changed.

behind clouds  The previous board’s inability then and even now to consider that they made terrible mistakes, disregarded community opinion, failed to weigh all the options or even begin to have the courage to stand up for the least of us, proves how grossly inadequate they were to represent the greatest of us.  Therefore, they brought shame and suspect upon all of their actions most notably the notorious facilities plan.  In an outrageous show of unification, the community made clear their disgust of being muted and voted out the old and in the new.  Now, we turn to a new era.  It’s a new time and opportunity.

This is the first time that any board member, with the exception of Judy Hicks, in this entire facilities plan drama, has taken time to consider all angles.  This board heard the community loud and clear.  They fought the state.  They have labored, sweat, prayed, talked, lost sleep over and contemplated beyond the realms any of us wish to consider.  This board has taken on what everyone wanted changed but few dared to tackle.  This board, with the exception of Judy Hicks, stepped up to the mound in the last inning with everything lined up against them and nothing going for them but an overwhelming desire to take one for the team because it’s the right thing to do.  Could you do it?  I couldn’t.  That’s why I didn’t run for the board.  images (18)

So, on this eve that changes everything I am asking you, Clark County, what are we made of?  This facilities plan is more than about a mere vote on metal and steel.  It’s a vote on the kind of people we are.  Are we selfish people willing to turn on one another if we don’t get our way?  Are we weak people willing to flaunt that our vote won over the plan that didn’t?  Or are we people with backbone, people who reach deep and know that regardless of what tomorrow holds it is a new era?  It’s a time of when we say all that is gone before, matters no more.  We have a board that will never again put our kids or their own reputations on the market to the highest bidder.  There is no more secret meetings, over-paid bureaucrats, over inflated egos or nauseating misuse of the media.

Life has shown us that more often than not to find what is keeping we must first sift through the rubbish.  To find a hidden treasure we must get dirty digging it from the dirt.  To find a diamond we have to travel the blackest coal shafts.  And if we want real gold then we have to spend hours on our knees shaking it from the imposters and fool’s gold surrounding it.  Finding what is real is important but what becomes more important is how do we treat what is authentic when we are not accustom to seeing it?  Now, is our time Clark County.  Stand up for your school board and say we respect your effort you have put into this decision making process – thank you for having the courage to do the job no one else wanted.



Better Future For Our Kids Worth The Cost Of Squaring Off With Bullies

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement with tags , , , , on September 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

Better Future For Our Kids Worth The Cost Of Squaring Off With Bullies

injustice anywhere threat

The red-lettered link above will connect you to a post written by attorney Jim Bordas. The post is his reflection upon his life and the things he is teaching his children. He eloquently states the high cost for those with enough courage to stand up to bullies. He doesn’t sugar-coat the ramifications for the pioneers of change. Yet, his words manager to encourage us to continue on in our fight regardless of how we may suffer personally. Like us, he knows the best way to stop bullying in our schools is for kids to see adults standing up to bullies, no matter who they are. Read the post to discover the plan he has to back up the message he is sending.

Stand Up Clark County, we are not alone!

Not All Football Players Would Have Done This

Posted in Encouragement, In The News, National Stories, Point of View, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Joan Graves


Four William Patterson University football players entered a local store to find no cashier. They called out but no one answered. They selected their purchases, counted out the money, tossed it on the counter and left. Little did they know what was about to happen.

The players have received national exposure because they did the right thing. They could have stolen their items but did not. Somewhere along the way, a coach and/or parents taught these guys that when they take from another no one wins. They learned, no doubt, by example, that integrity is always more valuable than money or wins. These guys had opportunity but no motive. They knew there are ways to treat people and there are ways not to treat people. Now, they are enjoying the feeling of having a reputation of being men of honor in a sport that has far too high a crime rate. Being men of good character does not happen it is learned. And when it is displayed, it is celebrated and people never forget.

Read the story for yourself by clicking on the link below. Stand Up Clark County and teach our players to be men of honor.


A New Era Begins For CCPS

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, In The News with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by Joan Graves


After much deliberation and contemplation Paul Christy has been selected to be the next superintendent of Clark County Public Schools. Christy’s road to the helm of CCPS has been anything but smooth.

During the 2009 superintendent search Christy was in the running but lost to previous superintendent, Elaine Farris. Christy and Farris’s relationship came under scrutiny when Stand Up Clark County released emails exchanged between them. The emails, obtained through Kentucky’s Open Records law, revealed that Christy’s job responsibilities included washing and refueling Farris’s car, despite the fact that he has been a long-time educator in Clark County and was the assistant superintendent at the time.

As our educational woes increased, Christy and his family became a direct target. Mean-spirited and unfounded accusations regarding Christy were submitted to Stand Up Clark County through this blog. The safety of the entire Christy family was brought into question when secret videos of  the Christy home and family, including children, were taken and posted online by KY Anonymous. Throughout the ordeal the Christy family remained strong and committed to educating the students in this county.

Considering Christy has been employed during the controversy and weathered personal attacks himself, he is likely better prepared for the extremely difficult road ahead. Superintendent Christy is the latest step taken on a very long road to healing for this community. There will be many obstacles we still will face but with a new superintendent and united, strong board we are well on our way to improving the educational landscape of this community. Congratulations, Paul Christy and thank you Michael McGowan, Ashley Ritchie and Dr. Michael Kuduk for having the courage and strength to take on the stressful task of bringing forth a new era.

Stand Up Clark County for our new superintendent.


For Such A Time As This – Class of 2013

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, Point of View with tags , , , , on May 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

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“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows that you have come to your royal  position for such a time as this“. Esther 4:14-15

Esther was a young woman in a very difficult predicament. She had been chosen to be queen by a king who was unaware she was Jewish. When the king issued the edict to have the Jews killed, Esther’s Uncle Mordecai spoke the famed words above.

In those days, you couldn’t just drop in on the king even if you were the queen. Anyone who appeared before the king without being summoned would have their head cut off unless the king extended his scepter over them. Esther was in the palace only because the king had literally tossed out the previous queen for snubbing his dinner invitation. Esther had no reason to believe the king would treat her differently. And even if he did extend his scepter he could still kill her when she revealed she was Jewish.

Esther was an orphan so no one knew of her Jewish heritage. She was the Queen of Persia. In order to save herself all she had to do was remain quiet and not take a stand for the Jewish people. Yet, that was the only thing Ester couldn’t do. Esther agreed to go to the king on behalf of others saying, “If I perish, I perish”. Esther didn’t perish. She saved the Jewish people. Her courage can overshadow Mordecai’s wise words of, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

This week three women were rescued after been held captive for ten years. A man broke down a neighbor’s door after hearing a cry for help. A man in a cowboy hat, who had lost both his sons, was at the Boston Marathon when terrorist bombs exploded. He helped save lives. We hear the stories all the time. Someone who happened to be in the right place at the right time stepped up and made a difference. What we don’t hear is when it’s done on a smaller scale.

The truth is that almost daily we face decisions that may seem mundane only to realize later they were pivotal. Our responses, or lack there of, to events surrounding us can make a very significant difference. Some times we may have to make a decision that doesn’t benefit us but will improve the lives of others. And sometimes the decision to help another is hardest on us.

As this school year winds down I’ve wondered what the class of 2013 will recall about their senior year. The controversies within our school system will be permanently etched into the memory of their final high school year. Inevitably, Stand Up Clark County will be a part of that. Winchester   isn’t Persia and there are no kings or queens here. But I hope this class knows, there are a significant number of people invested in their lives and are willing to face the consequences of standing up for them; for such a time as this.

Stand Up Clark County for the class of 2013!

Forward Function Is Everything

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, Point of View with tags , , on March 1, 2013 by Joan Graves

It’s always a healthy exercise to review our past and determine how to correct mistakes we’ve made. But to continually keep our minds in the past is self-destructive and benefits no one, least of all Clark County Students. We may make mistakes but as long as we learn from them, mistakes are good.

This district must come together for the sake of our kids. We can’t have indecisive board members refusing to vote or board members determined to be right at all costs. We need brave-hearted board members willing to run the risk of taking an unpopular vote when it is best for the kids. Previous board members must cut the ties and accept they are no longer decision makers. There is no shame in being able to say, “I gave it my all but the people wanted something different.” There is power in saying, “Hey, we messed that up before and it’s going to cost us to get out of it but in the long-run it is worth it.”

CCPS seems to be afflicted with a chronic illness of an inability to leave the past. We can’t see solutions as long as we keep our heads buried in the past. The current controversies are being fought with old information. Rather than look for new solutions to current questions, our students are being pushed forward on a path littered with out-dated information, irrelevant reporting and misguided speculation. They deserve more than that. Our students deserve leaders willing to carve out a new future for them outside the box.

The opportunity for a fresh start and new direction is being compromised by individuals insisting on promoting our past as the only choice for our future. If we are going to be successful we must look at the past only long enough to take what we need. We must determine what we can learn from previous behavior and simply let the rest go.

In times of confusion, uncertainty and strife, we must train ourselves to see nothing beside or behind us. If we meticulously put one foot in front of the other we will begin to move forward into a better tomorrow. But we’ve got to move. We’ve got to take that first halting step even if we do so in fear. Walking backwards into the future only leaves us spinning our wheels. To seize the hope for our kids we must turn toward the future, walking slowly in wisdom with nothing but a forward function mentality. images (21)

Our Answers Only Hours Away

Posted in Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Herald-Leader, In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by Joan Graves

2012 teacher of yr Rebecca Mieliwoki

For over a year the citizens of Clark County have searched for answers for what has been described as burning questions. Yet, we have been repeatedly denied what we believe is our right to know. Despite a rigorous legal campaign launched by Elaine Farris to avoid giving a deposition in the lawsuit she filed, that deposition will take place in a little over 12 hours. At long last many questions that have echoed in our minds will now be asked and In a peculiar twist it’s Elaine that we can thank for our impending revelations.

The lawsuit Farris filed against the Columbias and me was ambiguous at best. Though rich in shock-value adjectives, the suit provides not a single shred of evidence or specific allegations.  It basically says we said things about her she doesn’t like so she is suing. Only in a civil case could someone have others hauled into court with a list of baseless allegations and not even a smidgen of circumstantial evidence. The only requirement for a civil lawsuit is money for an attorney. It’s a shocking revelation of American “justice” of which, I could have lived my entire life without knowing,  It’s an an insult to the integrity our forefathers thought they were creating in America and disgusting waste of tax-payer money that could be invested in our schools.

In her deposition Farris will either defend herself and her actions or she will be as evasive as she’s been in the past. I am expecting the latter but Farris’s supporters are excitedly spreading  word that Elaine will rigorously defend herself in great detail. . According to them, Elaine will provide evidence and details that will be a logical explanation for everything and prove us to be liars. And I’m saying that’s not even possible. But one thing is for absolute certain, this time tomorrow we can all stop speculating.

To be fair, we should note that after Farris’s deposition the Columbias and I will also give a deposition. Don’t expect any new information from us. Lord, knows we’ve not only been an open book but we’ve provided sketches, maps and Cliff Notes. But regardless of whether you are interested in information from Farris, the Columbias or me you will have it tomorrow.

Having never gone through the process before, I am uncertain how long it will take tomorrow. But I will provide an update to this blog as soon as possible. It’s impossible to face tomorrow and not thank all of you. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve my community in this fashion. Thank you for your overwhelming support, perseverance and grace to correct any mistakes I have made. Together we are marching toward truth and justice.

Stand Up Clark County – our time is at hand.

Trapp Elementary Gets Blue Ribbon & Demonstrates CCPS Potential

Posted in Encouragement, Herald-Leader, In The News, National Stories, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2012 by Joan Graves
The logo for the Natonal Blue Ribbon Schools p...

The logo for the Natonal Blue Ribbon Schools program, awarded to JP2 in 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This evening parents and citizens are meeting to discuss the district’s plan to merge Conkwright and Clark Middle Schools. An overwhelming number of community members are against the proposal with very good reason. The Clark County Board of Education also seeks to close Trapp and other Elementary Schools for the same purpose. Yet, it is the smaller elementary schools that are the highest achieving in the district, state and nation.

Trapp Elementary leaders are currently preparing for a trip to Washington D.C. to collect a high honor. The U.S. Department of Education announced in September that Trapp Elementary will receive the coveted Blue Ribbon Award. Private schools are often touted as top schools and are considered in the running for the Blue Ribbon Award. Despite the competition it was a little public school in Winchester, KY that caught the eye of  U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”

In a time of educational turmoil our little schools are getting the job done. Time and again they rise to the challenge and meet the goals that our board and superintendent say can not be met. Every teacher, worker, administrator and student at Trapp deserves recognition. On behalf of the community we say thank you Trapp for breaking the mold and demonstrating the capabilities of our students and teachers. We are so pleased to be a part of the community you have chosen to serve and improve.

Stand Up Clark County for Trapp Elementary!

Stand Up – Speak Out – Fight For Something Better

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, In The News, Point of View, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by Joan Graves


I came across it in the oddest way. But the moment I saw it I couldn’t let it go. I’ve been anxiously awaiting it for months. And now I know. It surpassed my expectations. I am talking about the movie Won’t Back Down starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.

Teacher unions across the country slammed the movie because they took it as a personal attack. I didn’t see that. In fact, I thought the movie was extremely fair to them. They didn’t paint the entire union as monsters. They presented several good aspects for having a union. Actually, several were favorable to unions.

The movie is also very fair to teachers. I loved that there was only one bad teacher. They were presented as hard-working, shackled by the bureaucracy of school boards and forced to pay for needed supplies out of their own pocket. And just like Clark County the teachers in the movie longed for the freedom to teach in a manner that was personalized for their class and to have a say in curriculum selection.

The movie was well-thought out, fair and realistic. Our current educational struggles with Clark County Public Schools is perfectly mirrored in Won’t Back Down. I encourage everyone to see it. You won’t be disappointed. You will laugh, cry and get mad. But in the end none of those emotions will matter because you will be so infused with hope it will over ride everything else.

Stand Up Clark County there is hope in change.