Superintendent Anna Shepherd announces that as Kentucky observes School Board Recognition Month in January, Floyd County Schools is joining in the celebration.
Linda Gearheart, William “Junior” Newsome, Dr. Chandra Varia, Keith Smallwood and Steve Slone are among the more than 850 school board members in the state’s 171 local school districts being recognized this month for their service.
“This is the perfect time to thank school board members for serving in a role that has become increasingly complex,” said Davonna Page, president of the Kentucky School Boards Association and member of the Russellville Independent school board. “Members of the Floyd County Board of Education are responsible for making decisions aimed at ensuring that every child in their district has a chance to be successful both in school and in life,” Page said. “To do that, members oversee a multimillion dollar budget, keep up with changing education laws and policies, and spend hours on professional learning and state-mandated training.”
“The voters in Floyd County have elected these local leaders, who work to give every child in every classroom access to high quality teaching and learning,” said Superintendent Shepherd. “Our community can be very proud of this team of board members, and I’m proud to be their partner in striving for education excellence and ROWing and GROWing for our children.”
Linda Gearheart, District 1, is the chair of the Floyd County Board of Education. She attended undergraduate and completed her graduate work at Morehead State University. Gearheart is a former teacher and principal for over 34 years serving students at Prestonsburg Elementary, JD Adam’s Middle School as a teacher and as an assistant principal at Prestonsburg Elementary, and principal at Auxier Elementary and Allen Elementary. Linda has served on the first Local Planning Committee, as a mentor for the Teacher Internship Program, a member of Superintendent Search Committees and Calendar Committees. She was selected as the District Teacher of the Year (1992), Middle School Teacher of the Year and was recognized by the State Board and the Kentucky Department of Education. Linda is beginning her 16th year as a board member. She and her husband Ashland reside in Prestonsburg. They have three children, David, Adam, and Susan and four grandchildren: Noah, Livia, Alana, and Killian.
District 3 representative William “Junior” Newsome is the vice-chair for the board and is currently on the Local Planning Committee. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Pikeville College (now UPIKE) and beyond his Master of Arts at Morehead State University. He taught for over 30 years at Betsy Layne High School, and coached basketball and baseball. Junior led his teams to win 500 Boys Basketball Games,12 District Titles,5 Regional Titles, and 1 All A State Title. Junior began his role as a board member in January 2017. He and his wife Josephine live in Stanville.
Dr. Chandra Varia represents District 2 and has served on the board for more than two decades. Working as a physician for over 40 years and delivering over 3,000 babies, Dr. Varia has always chosen an active role in the lives of those babies and all the children of Floyd County. She has read to students, helped start a Health Services career pathway at one of our high schools, supported and attended our Early Childhood programs, and attended performing arts shows for the community, showing her support of events that include families and her support of education beyond the typical school subjects. Dr. Varia once funded a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC for students from low-income families so they could see the ocean in person. She and 32 kids and adults traveled together as she wanted to share the experience with the kids (and she joined in playing in the pool and riding amusement park rides with the kids). She wanted to inspire them to see beyond the here and now and to start learning to look for new opportunities. She has provided scholarships to the 3400+ babies she has delivered and donated to several colleges and universities in order to support the students of Eastern Kentucky. She continues to be a passionate advocate for the children of Floyd County. She lives in Martin in the home she and her late husband Mahendra shared together for many years.
Keith Smallwood is the board member for District 4. He obtained his Associate of Art degree at Prestonsburg Community College (currently Big Sandy Community and Technical College), his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Kentucky and his Master of Arts from Morehead State University. Keith is a retired Family Resource and Youth Service Center coordinator for Floyd County Schools and served on the state FRYSC board for 8 years. Additionally, Keith served 15 years as volleyball coach (Coach of the Year two times) and 9 years as Track and Field coach (Coach of the Year three times). He has coached football (9 years), basketball (8 years), baseball (2 years), and golf (3 years). Keith became a member of the Floyd County Board of Education in January 2020. He and his wife Teresa live in Bevinsville.
Steve Slone represents District 5. For a brief time, Steve served as a board member for the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce. Slone is self-employed, owning and operating his own business, Patriot Security, for 8 years, but you may remember seeing him on the court as a referee in the 15th region. He was a high school basketball official for 22 years and a high school volleyball official for 11 years. Steve is the proud father of one son, Steven Glenn Slone, and proud grandfather of twin grandsons, Austin Glenn & Mason Joshua Slone.
Superintendent Shepherd comments, “We are blessed here in Floyd County in that we have so many folks who want to have the best possible schools for our children. We are proud to see our board team working hard to grow and learn even more about how they can best help support Floyd County kids.”