Mr. Ken James, Vice President of the GNA School Board, retires after 27 years of service

Left to right: Tom Andrukaitis ( Son-in-law), Kim James ( Daughter), Chris James ( Wife), Ken James, Macie Kivler ( Granddaughter), Diane Kivler ( Daughter), Dale Kivler (Son-in-law).
Left to right: Tom Andrukaitis ( Son-in-law), Kim James ( Daughter), Chris James ( Wife), Ken James, Macie Kivler ( Granddaughter), Diane Kivler ( Daughter), Dale Kivler (Son-in-law).

In 1997, the Greater Nanticoke Area School District was in financial distress. The district was facing bankruptcy. The problematic situation the school district faced was the main reason why Ken James began his decades-long journey to preserve the district for not only his children but generations to come. Thus began a 27-year journey to serve the district and the local community. 

The GNA Insider was granted a brief interview with Mr. Ken James to both reminisce on his years with the GNASD and learn about his future plans. 

Sammy Gow accepting her diploma from Ken James.

Not everyone understands the functionality of the school board and its role within the school. “The school board overlooks finances, academics, facilities, personnel, and any other school function that goes on throughout the whole calendar year.” School board members are unpaid and community elected officials who come together once a month to discuss and vote on meeting topics.

Before the graduation ceremony with his daughter, Diane.

When asked what had motivated James to join the school board, he said, “The GNASD was in the process of going bankrupt and being in the rears of 5 million dollars. I thought, at the time I had two young daughters in school, and I wanted to help the school district as much as possible to come back stronger than ever.”

Another factor in James’s commitment to the school district was his love for his community. “My whole adult life I was always active within our community by volunteering my time as a baseball and softball coach, biddy basketball coach, and also providing my umpiring and officiating services.”

Working on the GNA school board for so long has provided James with many fond memories including “getting the school back in financial stability,” which had been one of the first reasons for joining the school board in the beginning. Being on the school board for many years also opened up opportunities that meant a great deal to him. “Handing both of my daughters their diplomas during their graduations was a special moment that I will always remember.” 

First official School Board Photo: 1998 yearbook.

This wasn’t Ken James’ first time with politics. “I was vice president of my class back in 1973.” Coincidentally, James joined the school board and later became vice president again. He decided to start a new chapter of his life by campaigning for Nanticoke City Council.

James decided to continue his service to our school district because “It was extremely important to me to pass on my Trojan Pride for generations.” His involvement in youth sports also played a role. “I was always passionate and had a deep love for sports and helping our youth become great student-athletes on and off the field or courts.” 

James was also given the chance to coach sports and be involved first-hand in Nanticoke athletics. “Overseeing the athletic department which provided two state softball championship teams, one state champion wrestler, and various conference and district championship teams over the years is something I will always cherish.”  

While James also committed parts of his life to the athletics department, “It was my great honor to see the softball field being dedicated in memory of a dear friend of mine who dedicated his life to Nanticoke Athletics.” This bittersweet dedication to his friend will remain one of his fondest memories.  

Hugging eldest daughter Kimberly after he handed her diploma to her.

During James’ 27-year-long service to the school district, he has been the conductor of many memorable accomplishments. Starting with “Getting the school back in financial stability” which led to “Making sure our students have the best materials in the classroom that we can financially afford.” Other honorable mentions would be building new schools, getting all the schools onto one campus, and providing updated sports facilities.

Throughout his career, James has undoubtedly made an impact on the people around him; however, he credits many people for influencing him and his illustrious career. “Over the 27 years of being on the board, I worked with many different board members and also two supportive superintendents whom I am lucky enough to call my friends. I am happy to say I tried my best to get along with everyone to see that there were always two sides to every story and to always hear everyone out if there was a problem. I am thankful for everyone’s friendships over the years as we made some very difficult decisions, but it was always what was best for the students and also the community.” 

Even though Ken James has retired from the school board, he is still part of the community and participates in many activities. “I am also the chairman of the Greater Nanticoke Area Athletic Recognition Committee which means a lot to me, so I’ll still be active within the school.” In January, James will be joining the Nanticoke City Council to not only help our school district but Nanticoke as a whole.

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