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2012 All-state School Board honored by AASB

For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Denise L. Berkhalter, / 334-277-9700



From left to right are the 2012 AASB All-state Board Members: Ola Ball of Brewton, Karen Duke of Decatur, Tracy Roberts of Baldwin County, the Rev. Schmitt Moore of Tuscalossa County and William "Bill" Silver of Saraland. The award was presented by AASB President Steve Foster of Lowndes County (far right).



MONTGOMERY, AL  – (December 2012) – The Alabama Association of School Boards honored its 2012 All-State School Board during the annual convention in December. The honorees are Ola Ball of Brewton, Karen Duke of Decatur, William “Bill” Silver Jr. of Saraland, the Rev. Schmitt Moore of Tuscaloosa County and Tracy Roberts of Baldwin County, who was elected in November to the Alabama State Board of Education.


A record 455 education leaders attended the convention, annual business meeting and new school board member orientation programs Dec. 5-8 at The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham. All-State recognition occurred at a Dec. 7 awards luncheon.

AASB began its All-State School Board Member Recognition Program in 1992 to recognize up to five of Alabama’s most outstanding past or present school board members.

“These school board members are commended for their exemplary boardsmanship and for exemplifying the highest ideals of board service,” said AASB President Steve Foster of the Lowndes County Board of Education. “AASB is proud to bestow upon them its highest honor for school board members. I congratulate them all.”

Ola Ball

Ball has been a member of the Brewton school board since 2000 and is a familiar face at AASB training sessions. She has more than 283 hours in the AASB School Board Member Academy. The academy has four basic levels, and Ball has reached Level 4. While she has served on the AASB Bylaws and Resolutions committees, she has also tapped into educational opportunities during a National School Boards Association conference and an NSBA-Southern Region conference.

When the Brewton Board of Education was selected in 2009 to participate in AASB’s Governing for Achievement Project, she was an active participant who emphasized parent expectations for their children and student participation in the learning process as instrumental considerations for the board. The project taught participating school boards the lessons learned from governance teams in high-performing school systems researched as part of the Iowa Association of School Boards’ famous Lighthouse Study. Brewton was one of 10 school boards to participate in Alabama’s project.

Those who nominated Ball for the All-State honor say she is a “voice for children” and is a community servant willing to lead when crafting and supporting school system policies and goals. Brewton Mayor Ted Jennings describes Ball as “a true ambassador of Brewton and its school system” who “has excellent skills in working with school board members and local community leaders.”

Brewton schools Superintendent Lynn D. Smith said Ball’s “attitude of service” and “great insight to the needs of children, teachers and parents” makes her “a great asset to the Brewton City Board of Education.” That attitude of service comes from the retiree’s 35 years of experience as a surgical nurse at D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton. The mother of two children and guardian of three non-related children also volunteers with the Castleberry Community Center.

Karen Duke

Duke is president of the Decatur school board and has gone beyond the Master school board member level to earn a place on AASB’s Masters Honor Roll. She has earned more than 270 academy hours since she joined her school board in 2000. Duke advocates for Alabama’s schoolchildren through AASB’s Leader to Leader program and the Federal Relations Network (an NSBA advocacy program for school boards). She has been active on other AASB committees, as well, including Academy Assessment and Budget and Finance.

Those who nominated Duke for All-State said she played a pivotal role in Decatur City Schools achieving unitary status this year after 42 years under the jurisdiction of the federal courts. She was also instrumental in the system’s reduction of contractor costs, achieving citywide bus transportation for students and launching several new programs in the school system (the International Baccalaureate or IB, Primary Years, Middle Years, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Leader in Me programs). She also helped raise $100,000 from the community to buy laptops for IB students.

Because she remains current on education issues through AASB and other sources, nominators said Duke is an avid speaker to community groups and often works to inform local media about key issues impacting Decatur City Schools. She also taps into her education and experience as a wife, mother of two and grandparent of two. Duke has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Athens State University and has an administrative certification and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Her list of civic accomplishments is long. Duke is a member of the Decatur City Schools Foundation, LifeSouth Advisory Board and Decatur General Hospital Auxiliary Guild. She has helped raise funds for the Decatur General Foundation and American Heart Foundation and did cleanup work after the devastating April 2011 tornadoes.

Alabama Sen. Arthur Orr said he admires Duke’s devotion to her task as board president. “Mrs. Duke and I have put our heads together regarding many issues. Because of her efforts and leadership, we were able to provide funding for several renovations at the schools. … This (Tennessee Valley Authority) money saved many jobs during proration and continues to help schools with technology and teacher supplies. Mrs. Duke was always a strong advocate for this funding and encouraged the pursuit.”

Charles Elliott, M.D., served alongside Duke on the Decatur board and is now a member of the state Board of Education. He said Duke had the courage to “maintain the highest principles of good boardsmanship, even when it would have been politically and personally easier to choose another course.” He credits Duke with “working tirelessly to maintain the board’s focus on Decatur’s students and the welfare of the school system.”

The Rev. Schmitt Moore

Moore maintains a number of leadership roles in Tuscaloosa County. He is dean of his local Congress of Christian Education, pastors Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and is president of the Tuscaloosa County school board. He has been on the board since 2006.

Those who nominated Moore for All-State said he has coordinated a six-church fundraiser for a cluster of five inner city schools, and his church has hosted for 30 years a Central Choral Music Concert featuring middle school, high school and college students. He serves on the Hospice of West Alabama and the Stillman Credit Union boards and has been actively involved in the PTA, Tuscaloosa Boys and Girls Parent Club, Tuscaloosa Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Tuscaloosa Metro Jail Ministry and Tuscaloosa Area Nursing Home Ministry.

Nominators said Moore was instrumental in working with the Tuscaloosa County Commission to procure financing for the largest school construction project undertaken by the Tuscaloosa County School System. They said Moore “encouraged our board to pursue a temporary 1-cent sales tax.” That tax would generate more than $155 million for the school system for new school construction to eliminate portable classrooms and for facilities upkeep. In 2008, the school system opened three new schools near the end of the school board’s five-year strategic plan.

“Rev. Moore has been an exemplary citizen of Tuscaloosa County,” said Interim Superintendent Dan Butler. “He has not only made himself known as an outstanding school board member, but also an exceptional member of the community.”

James Barnett said his fellow board member is “an integral part of the communication process between the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education and the Tuscaloosa community. Not only does he strive for efficiency and effectiveness, his enthusiasm for public service has positively impacted the entire community.”

Moore is a product of the Tuscaloosa County School System, graduating from Boteler High School. He has an associate’s degree from Shelton State Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham Baptist College. In the AASB School Board Member Academy, he has earned more than 173 academy hours and reached Level 4. Moore and his school system are participants in AASB’s Governing for Achievement Project that uses research-based training to help school boards govern in ways that enhance student achievement.

Tracy Roberts

Roberts’ accomplishments as a member of the Baldwin County school board since 2004 likely helped her win election in November to the District 1 seat on the Alabama State Board of Education. From 2006-2008, she was vice president of the Baldwin County school board, and from 2008-2010 she was the board’s president. She played a key role in the board’s nationwide superintendent search, which led the system to ultimately hire Dr. Alan Lee. In 2010, Roberts led the board through a 1-cent sales tax referendum that garnered 60 percent of voters’ approval.

An education advocate, Roberts has met with governmental officials in Washington, D.C., as well as other congressional and legislative leaders in regard to issues impacting Alabama’s schools.

Nominators said Roberts takes opportunities to promote education through her association with organizations such as the University of Alabama Parents’ Association, Spanish Fort High School Education Enrichment Foundation, PTA, Statewide Task Force on Student Health Issues, Coastal Recovery Commission and the Citrin Safety Foundation.

 “She has a true passion for her service to education that surpasses her duties as a board member, has an impeccable reputation in Baldwin County and is respected by her fellow board members, staff and superintendent,” said Angie Swiger, current president of the board.

“I have not known of another board member who went to such great lengths to connect with employees in all categories, with parents and with community, county and state leaders,” said Lee. “Her visibility has been truly amazing.”

Lee said Roberts served as a “non-judgmental sounding board that offered historical knowledge” to him when he first began serving as superintendent in the system. “Time and again, she has demonstrated the ‘one for all’ attitude as she has voted for what was best, even if it had no impact on her own district,” Lee said.

Sen. Trip Pittman, chairman of the Senate Education Finance and Taxation Committee, said Roberts “has become a trusted resource for information on K-12 issues” and is “an excellent model of governance as a local school board member.”

Roberts’ accomplishments in AASB include 209 earned academy hours; Level 4 recognition in the academy; service on the association’s Bylaws, Resolutions and Nominating committees; and participation in the Federal Relations Network, Congressional Contacts and Leader to Leader advocacy program.

She is the mother of five, a grandmother and the wife of a Baldwin County attorney who serves as municipal judge for Spanish Fort. 

William “Bill” Silver

Silver is a Level 4 school board member with 105 academy hours and has served on AASB’s Budget and Finance Committee. But he is probably best known as a pioneer of the Saraland School System.

Since its inception in 2006, Silver has served as president of the Saraland Board of School Commissioners. He co-chaired the referendum committee that sought a 1-cent sales tax to establish the school system. The tax was approved by 74 percent of voters. He also co-chaired the countywide ad valorem tax renewal referendum in 2011 that passed in Saraland by 92 percent and countywide by 87 percent.

“Forming a new school system from scratch has been a challenging and daunting endeavor,” said Saraland Mayor Dr. Howard Rubenstein. “Throughout the process, from building community awareness to developing new policies and procedures, Mr. Silver’s calm and reassuring leadership has been invaluable.”

Those who nominated Silver for All-State said he works closely with elected officials in Saraland, Mobile County and the Alabama Legislature on issues that affect K-12 education. He advocated for the Students First Act of 2011 and tackled school start date and tax referendum issues.

“Mr. Silver’s steady servant leadership set high expectations for our school district from the very beginning,” said Superintendent Dr. L. Wayne Vickers. “Over the past three years, we have experienced a 50 percent growth in our student population and the completion of over $50 million of construction projects.”

Under Silver’s leadership, the school system also has constructed a new high school, baseball/softball field and a football stadium.

Silver has been president of and is now vice president of economic development for the Saraland Chamber of Commerce. He is first vice president of the Saraland Lions Club, president of the Saraland Park & Recreation Foundation, chairman of the Kushla Water District and former president of the Saraland Civic Forum.

Dr. Lonnie Burnett said fellow school commissioner Silver “does not take his role as board president lightly. Burnett also said, “His background in business makes him invaluable in our budgeting and building discussions. At the board table, Mr. Silver is a model of courteous efficiency.”

The retired Alabama Power executive has a wife, Barbara.

The AASB convention, with its Eureka! Great Schools Are No Accident theme, featured general sessions on Building Moral Intelligence: Our Last, Best Hope by child and adolescent expert Dr. Michele Borba; Actions Speak Louder Than Words by Mattie C. Stewart Foundation Founder and dropout prevention advocate Dr. Shelley Stewart; and Great Leadership is No Accident by leadership expert Barbara Dooley, wife of legendary football coach Vince Dooley.

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



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