Donna Peterson wasn't just receiving awards this month -- she also was giving them.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District superintendent presented school board member Debra Mullins with the Don MacKinnon Excellence in Education and Human Services Award earlier this month at the Alaska Association of School Administrators annual conference in Valdez.
The award, named for the now-deceased Alaska superintendent, is presented each year to one Alaska school board member in recognition of outstanding community service.
"My reaction was a little disbelief," Mullins said Monday. "When you work on a board, as I do, decisions are usually made by the whole board. It's hard to single out one member for their actions, whatever they might be."
But according to Debbie Stewart, public information officer with the district, there were plenty of reasons Mullins deserved the recognition.
"She's been a school board member two different times, spanning a total of 12 years, and has held every different office our local school board has, from president all the way to parliamentarian," Stewart said.
Mullins also received the Association of Alaska School Board's excellence in boardmanship award in 1999 and the National School Board Association's award for distinguished service in 2000.
But, Stewart added, one of Mullins' greatest strengths is her range of service. In addition to local school board service, Mullins also sits on the Association of Alaska School Board's director's board, presents workshops to new school board members and was appointed by the governor to be a member of the state Officer's Compensation Committee.
"One of the outstanding things about Deb is that of all the information she has given me, of all her experiences, she still says that the No. 1 thing that makes being a school board member important to her is being with the students," Stewart said.
"She believes in participating, not just visiting classrooms."
In fact, before talking to the Clarion on Monday, Mullins was in a classroom teaching students about communication.
"That was fun," she said. And, she said, that opportunity for service is exactly why she continues running for school board positions.
"I want to volunteer where I have an interest and where I feel I can do something," she said. "Education is my interest. To receive an award for what you do is just icing on the cake.
"It's nice. Unexpected, but nice."
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