‘She has seen the breadth of what JCPS can do’: Louisville leaders reflect on Diane Porter’s legacy

‘She has seen the breadth of what JCPS can do’: Louisville leaders reflect on Diane Porter’s legacy
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 7:42 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public Schools announced the resignation of their Board Chairwoman Diane Porter, citing ongoing health concerns as her reason for stepping down.

Porter’s resignation read in part, “It is with a mix of emotions, both gratitude and sadness, that I write to formally resign from my position on the Jefferson County Board of Education. The nature of my chronic illness demands that I prioritize my health and dedicate sufficient time for treatment, recovery, and self-care.”

Porter has been called a warrior, a lioness, and a protector of our children in the Jefferson County School System. When you add up the time she has spent with the system as a room mother, a volunteer, PTA, and her career with JCPS, the years are many.

“She started as a student in JCPS,” Dr. Raymond Burse of Louisville’s branch of the NAACP said. “She had a daughter in JCPS. A teacher. An assistant principal, a principal, a staff administrator. She has seen the breadth of what JCPS can do.”

Dr. Burse celebrates Diane Porter, the first African-American woman to head the Jefferson County Board of Education. He also appreciates her care of District 1 which serves much of West Louisville. Porter, a veteran educator, and community leader never walks away from a battle when it comes to creating an equitable system where students can thrive, learn, and get all the support they need to be successful.

Dr. Corrie Shull, District 6 Board Member, agrees with Dr. Burse. He is the current vice chairperson and Porter has been not only a good friend but a mentor to Shull.

”Ms. Porter demands a public education system that is marked by excellence and equity,” Dr. Shull said with a smile. “An educator who serves for 50-plus years in the public school system is something that comes around very infrequently.”

After half a century of service, Porter is leaving a rich legacy as she steps down.

”I don’t think anyone can fill Ms. Porter’s shoes,” Dr. Shull stressed. “The Ms. Porters of the world come around very, very infrequently. Maybe once every 1000 years.”

Porter’s experience, knowledge and love for the students and teachers she serves is vast, but as she steps away from her position, her colleagues are facing some of the toughest times this school system has ever seen. Staffing shortages in the halls and on the busses, weapons in schools, discipline problems, and calls to split the school district are all looming.

”We’ve been in a very unique place by having her in that role with that experience, and she’s been able to navigate the troubled waters,” Dr. Burse said.  “She hasn’t always voted the way everybody would’ve liked. She always voted for the best for the students in the district.”

Porter may be stepping down, but she is not stepping out of the picture.

“Her voice will not be drowned out,” Dr. Burse said. “It will be available in the community. She will continue to be a warrior and an advocate for education.”

Porter gets an A plus for a job well done and now a chance to sit on the sideline and jump in the game when they need her.

“For Diane Porter, when children are involved, she has been the biggest advocate that children in Louisville have had in 50 years,” Dr. Shull said with pride.

”We just want to celebrate her for the work she has done for this community in terms of what she’s given back,” Dr. Burse said.

The board will seek nominations and appoint a replacement for Porter who serves District 1. An election for that seat will be held in November 2024. Dr. Corrie Shull, who is the current vice-chair, will now step in as chairperson.