A tradition of academic leadership lives on
Ask Bill Black, Jr., what his proudest accomplishments of serving 24 years on the Paducah City School Board of Education have been and he will humbly tell you that no accomplishments made during his tenure were his accomplishments alone. He gives credit to each member’s leadership and commitment to providing high quality education for students in Paducah.
“No one board member can claim sole responsibility for achievements,” Bill says. “I hope that I have helped protect and reinforce the legacy of excellence in education that I was treated to as a student, and which I found still existing when I became a board member.”
The Paducah City Board of Education strives to equip students for higher education and career pursuits. During his time of service, Bill observed an increasing commitment to creating a positive learning environment and to providing coursework that prepares students for future academic success. He watched the Commonwealth of Kentucky move from being ranked 49th in the nation for education to 17th. The board’s commitment to quality education certainly played a significant role in this shift.
During his time of service, Bill advocated for maintaining the superior college preparatory programs provided at Paducah Tilghman High School. He has proudly watched Tilghman graduates go on to accomplish amazing feats, even when faced with personal obstacles and limitations. His commitment to providing students with a superior education at the public school level, has established a legacy of academic excellence in the Paducah City Schools.
Bill also realized that academic excellence could not be achieved by lesson plans alone, but was equally influenced by the condition of the students’ learning environments. That is why he supported building renovations and improvements to McNabb Elementary, Morgan Elementary, Clark Elementary and Paducah Tilghman High School. He also supported securing funding that would allow the building of the new Paducah Middle School.
“We offer a tradition of excellence,” Bill says. “That does not mean doing the same things over and over. It means continuously improving what you offer, being resourceful and creative, finding new and better ways, and making more rigorous the successes you have.”
Bill’s passion for public education and community service was handed down to him by his father, Bill Black, Sr. Bill, Sr., served as a school board member for 22 years, during one of public education’s most challenging eras. Having witnessed his father boldly face the trials presented by desegregation in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bill understands the importance of providing all students with a good education.
“Our democracy depends on education,” Bill says. “The public education system accepts responsibility to educate all children across the spectra of intellectual ability, socio-economic background, religious background, and from any demographic category that may describe them. Only public education can accomplish a mission of such complexity and scale.”
One of the biggest challenges Bill sees facing the Board of Education today is connecting high-risk students with loving adults who are available to them as mentors and counselors throughout the year.
In fact, although Bill is stepping down from his position on the board, he has no plans to conclude his service to the public school system. He continues to volunteer his time by sharing his knowledge of history and Lepidoptera–that is, the study of butterflies and moths. He hopes that more adults will invest their time in leading the community’s youth and providing safe havens for them to enter even when school is not in session.
“The Paducah I have known in my lifetime has an unusually high number of volunteers. Paducahans generally care about one another and love their community. They are willing to serve their neighbors and their community, and they have made this town more interesting in the process,” Bill says. “Paducah Public Schools have a wide variety of academic and extra-curricular activities where citizens might volunteer.”
The legacy that began with Bill’s father has continued through Bill’s children. Each are committed to making Paducah a better place to live and continue to make contributions that have lasting impacts in the community.