Shakila Henderson GSBA President

Shakila Henderson-Baker Named President of Georgia School Board Association Board of Directors
Posted on 06/20/2022
Shakila Henderson Baker Newton County School System is pleased to announce that school board member, Mrs. Shakila Henderson-Baker, district three, has been installed as the president of the Georgia School Board Association Board (GSBA) of Directors. Mrs. Henderson-Baker previously served as both president-elect and vice president of the GSBA Board of Directors.

“I'm beyond honored by board members across the state for being officially named as President of the Georgia School Board Association,” said Henderson-Baker. “This year's conference in Savannah had over 650 board members who attended in person and that number does not include the online attendees for our general sessions. Public education is the hot topic at the federal, state, and local level with so much legislation and funding surrounding it for the past two years so to be named President during this time is a serious commitment and requires someone who has a true love for defending public education and speaking up and advocating for policies that focus on student achievement and success for all students.”

She added, “I'm also coming at a time where there is a new national nonpartisan organization that 22 states including Georgia has started called COSSBA, which stands for Consortium of State School Board Associations. These states decided to leave the National School Board Association and form this new association that they thought would better serve the current policy needs that affect education systems as public education has changed. As President of Georgia's School Board Association, I serve as the official delegate and representative for national conferences on behalf of the 180 school districts that fall under GSBA, so I get the astounding duty of being the first President of our State Association to help steer this newly formed organization in the right direction.”

Henderson-Baker recalled, “I actually had the pleasure of representing the state association years back at a national conference in Texas when one of the officers could not be there. At that time frame I was doing a lot of presentations across Georgia on equity and poverty and serving as a District Director in the Association, so they asked me to come. Little did I know that I would walk away and a few years down the line be selected as President. To whom much is given much is required and I'm humbled that people on staff and board members across the state see my true love for children and education. I tell people it's my passion, my purpose, and my assignment and I have been blessed to serve.”

Henderson-Baker noted that the role is an important one and as such the organization ensures candidates are prepared for the responsibility.

“GSBA does an incredible job of making sure the incoming President is vetted properly and has had at the minimum a year-long process with understanding the mission of GSBA and the uniqueness of our public school districts in Georgia. You are a major voice and advocate for public education at the table. I'm somewhat of an education policy nerd, so I have really taken the time to learn about our state and embrace the importance of local control and the fact that we do not have a one size fits all model as North Georgia does not require the same needs as South Georgia, South Georgia does not require the same things as Metro-Atlanta, Middle Georgia does not require the same needs as West Georgia, and so forth. We have rural districts, mixed districts of urban and rural, urban districts, and districts with no resources who can barely afford to survive but do what they have with what they are given.”

Upon taking office, Henderson-Baker spoke to the gathered school board members in attendance and reminded them about the role they play in their school system.

“I reminded board members about the reasons why we serve and shared programs and policies they had implemented along with their superintendent,” she explained. “I reminded them that their role as a board of education member is a separate role and not the same as a superintendent and that's one of the reasons why boards get in trouble. What we want is good governance teams that work together staying out of trouble for the sake of the children in the system that do not get a do-over.”

Henderson-Baker noted the importance of communicating with fellow school board members to learn and effect positive change.

“For the past few years, I have intentionally sat with unfamiliar faces and asked questions about unique things they have going on in their district,” said Henderson-Baker. “I have followed their individual stories of service and I highlighted those things in my President's address. Most importantly, I challenged them to share their stories so that when I'm sitting at the table at the state or national level I can share stories, but I can't share them if they don't talk about them and that's the only way, we change the negative narratives of public education. I reminded them in my speech that while we don't all serve the same way because all of our needs are different, we should all have the same goal, which is ‘student achievement and success’ and that's the ultimate reason why we serve.”

“We congratulate Mrs. Henderson-Baker for being named President of the Georgia School Boards Association’s Board of Directors,” said Newton County School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “Mrs. Henderson-Baker is well-respected among her peers, and it is no surprise to us that she was selected for this very important state-level role. Mrs. Henderson-Baker has been a trusted leader and member of the Newton County Board of Education for many years now, and she is a stalworth supporter of public education who has always placed the needs of students first; I am certain she will continue her advocacy in her new role. We are incredibly proud to have her represent our school system and community over the course of the next year.”