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Jenks Gazette

Getting to Know Jenks Schools’ Board of Education

Managing Editor

DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVES: Jenks Public Schools’ Board of Education members are, from left, Chuck Forbes, Melissa Abdo, Ron Barber, Tracy Kennedy and Terry Keeling.

The Jenks Public Schools Board of Education is responsible for establishing the policies under which the district operates. The board must act within the framework of state and federal laws and still be responsible to the needs of the Jenks community.

The school board is made up of five members: Tracy Kennedy, Terry Keeling, Melissa Abdo, Ron Barber and Chuck Forbes.

Representing Ward 1, Tracy Kennedy has been a member of the Jenks school board for almost four years.

“How we prepare our students to be the leaders and workers of tomorrow will help our city and state be successful and competitive in an ever changing world,” Kennedy says.

Kennedy ran for the school board after being asked to fill a vacated seat.

“I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to give back to my high school alma mater, my children’s school and the community that I love,” she says.

Kennedy is the assistant vice president for public affairs and strategic planning for the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. She has more than 25 years of experience in public relations, marketing and communications in nonprofit, corporate and higher education areas.

“Through my work on the Jenks school board, I am able to impact the educational experience of more than 11,000 students and their families,” she says. “It is my honor and privilege to serve those families and see first-hand the hard work that our Jenks teachers and administrators put in every day to ensure our students succeed.”

Ward 2 representative Terry Keeling has served on the Jenks school board of education since June of last year.

“I was approached about replacing a member of the board who was not going to run for another term and decided that it was an opportunity to serve within the community and bring a business perspective to the board,” says Keeling.

His professional history includes 26 years as a senior associate and partner with bank consulting firm RDK & Associates. He is, currently, president of the company.

“As a member of the school board, I believe that it is important to provide support to the current administration, guidance when necessary and to act as a protector of the public interest.”

Keeling has two children who attend Jenks schools with his third child already graduated from the school district.

Keeling’s roles on the board include serving on the construction committee and on the committee tasked with assessing the need to move school start times. 

“While our new system is not perfect and has yet to be implemented, I believe that I provided some valuable oversight and input within the board as the process moved forward.”

Melissa Abdo holds the Ward 3 seat. She has served on the school board for close to five years.

Abdo has worked and volunteered for several education advocacy organizations. She is currently working with the Oklahoma Education Action Fund to raise awareness of the impact of elections on the public school system.

Especially with the education funding crisis taking place in the state, Abdo is grateful to the Jenks community that believes in investing in education, she says.

“They consistently support the district’s bond measures and contribute to the fundraising efforts of the Jenks Public Schools Foundation. Without their support, the challenges of reduced state funding would have an even greater impact on our teachers and students.”

Abdo appreciates her opportunity to serve on the school board, which allows her to play a role, along with Jenks administrators and staff, in preparing students for a successful future beyond high school.

“A question often posed at board meetings is ‘Is this good for students?’” she says. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ we have outstanding educators and staff who will make it happen.”

Ron Barber joined the Jenks school board to finish the term of his friend and neighbor Mark Sharp for Ward 4.

“The school business was unlike any business I had ever dealt with, and I was blown away by how much there was to learn,” he says.

That led Barber to run for reelection when his first term was up less than two years later.

Barber is currently in his 11th year on the school board.

Barber holds degrees from the University of Arkansas and the University of Tulsa.

In 1983, he started his own law firm, which later became known as Barber & Bartz and currently has 20 attorneys.

Barber manages his firm’s business practice and, over the years, has served on a variety of business and nonprofit boards.

He appreciates the importance of public education and the benefits that it brings to society as well as the school board of education and its place in working with, supporting and encouraging teachers, administrators and parents, he says.

Barber hopes to see state funding changed regarding public education: “Not only does this failure steal the dreams of children and families but it will also produce immeasurable socio-economic harm to the entire state of Oklahoma for years to come.”

Chuck Forbes, representing Ward 5, has been serving on the Jenks School Board of Education for the past eight years.

“I was brought up where my parents were always active in PTA and all of our activities,” he says.

Forbes served for years on the Jenks East Elementary PTA, before past Superintendent Dr. Kirby Lehman approached him to consider running for the school board.

“After eight years on the school board, I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement,” he says. “I view my service as a school board member to be vital to my community, my kids and myself.”

Forbes also serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Jenks Varsity Lacrosse team, which allows him to coach his son and help to grow the sport of lacrosse.

As for noteworthy accomplishments during his time as a school board member, Forbes is proud of the school district’s many new and renovated facilities that have been added to Jenks’ school sites.

He also cites the improvement of technology access for students, such as the district’s one-to-one initiative, which has been largely aided by the passing of various bond issues over the years.

Updated 08-31-2017

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