The Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA) named its finalists for the 2023 Fred Award.
Mahlon Thomas (Bus Driver, Carlisle County Schools)
Joe Webster (Custodian, Grant County Schools)
Shanon Leavell (School Nurse/Cheer Coach, Russellville Independent Schools)
The Fred program, now in its 16th year, seeks to honor support staff who are the heart and soul of our public schools today. KASA is proud to partner with author Mark Sanborn and American Fidelity to recognize Freds across the state. This year’s award will expand the program’s reach to 49 school districts statewide.
A favorite for KASA members, the Fred Award Program draws in nominations from school districts across the commonwealth each year. The award, inspired by Fred Shea, the postman who became the subject of Mark Sanborn’s national best seller, The Fred Factor, recognizes non-administrative staff statewide whose daily efforts are deemed extraordinary and integral to a positive learning atmosphere in their school communities. Finalists for this award must embody four guiding principles: makes a positive difference each day; has a heart for people; changes ordinary moments into memorable ones; and leads by example.
“Freds are change agents. Not only are Freds the consummate encourager, they go out of their way to show compassion to everyone. The result is a stronger school culture where students feel safe, valued, and loved,” said KASA Executive Director Dr. Rhonda Caldwell. “Freds have a natural gift of connecting with students who often need them most. They give immeasurably more when it comes to personal resources and time. Freds are quiet leaders with unofficial titles who unknowingly weave a legacy of greatness around them.”
A film crew will visit each finalist’s district to capture the spirit of their service. The video will be used by the judging panel, representing education leaders from school districts across the state, to determine the statewide winner who will be named July 28, at KASA’s annual leadership institute in Louisville. The winner and finalists receive a distinguished marble plaque, a copy of Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor, complimentary lodging at the Galt House Hotel, and a financial gift of $250 (finalists) or $500 (winner).
KASA’s Leadership Awards program is provided in partnership with American Fidelity Assurance Company.
As one student described her, Shanon Leavell is “the one person you know will always be there for you.” She connects with students on a personal level, not just their physical well-being, but their mental health, academic health, and their relationships with peers. She is the student’s biggest cheerleader. She greets students at the front door every day. Somedays, she makes the day even more memorable by handing out Blow Pops (to help the band blow the competition out of the water.) “Shanon not only builds relationships with our students but our staff and families as well,” said nominator Larry Begley, superintendent. She has completely revived the Panther Spirit, not only on game day, not only in our school but also in our whole community. She has cheered for our students, with our students, and now takes her cheer squad to at least one of every school activity and athletic event to make sure all student teams receive support and recognition from their peers.”
KASA is the largest school administrator group in Kentucky representing more than 3,300 education leaders from across the commonwealth. Formed in 1969, KASA connects education leaders to policymakers, legislators, and other interest groups, and provides numerous benefits to Kentucky’s school administrators.
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