Hughes & Coleman Hometown Hero: Karen Manley

Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 7:45 AM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Family Resource Coordinators dedicate themselves to helping students and families overcome barriers that negatively affect a student’s education. Karen Manley, the FRC at William H. Natcher Elementary takes that mission and runs with it, giving it her own personal flare.

Those that know her, say that she goes above and beyond to serve every student and the community.

“I have never seen another Family Resource Coordinator with her passion for the service,” said Ellen Buselmeier, a First Grade teacher at Natcher. “Every time she’s around we are laughing, we are having fun and we just can’t imagine this school without her.”

Manley said that her motivation to serve comes from the students and the potential greatness in each one.

“I just want to see them be the best version of themselves and if I can play a role in that then that’s all the motivation I need,” she said.

One of the key factors in her success is her relatability to students and their parents. She shares her life experiences and personal examples to help inspire and motivate families while helping them. She knows that seeking and getting help can be intimidating and it keeps her grounded and approachable to anyone that meets her.

Not only does she seek out service opportunities, but she takes them to heart and puts her own creative touches on them.

She started a breakfast Uno Club where students can have breakfast in her office and play a game of Uno to start their day. During the pandemic, she arranged Carpool Karakoe via Zoom featuring teachers to entertain students working from home. During the December tornadoes, she served as a FRC liaison for the region. She leads a culinary arts club for students and arranged a staff Easter Egg hunt. The list of Mrs. Manley’s involvement at Natcher and in the community is long, but the one she is most proud of is the “Leading Ladies Program” she founded to help girls transition to middle school.

“I’m so proud of the Leading Ladies Program, I can’t take it,” Manley said. “I love these kids.”

The program has been active for a few years. It has adapted to changes like the lockdowns. Manley says that it is a special program to her, and the main goal is to have the girls move to seventh grade with a built-in support group.

Her focus is allowing children to be who they are as her job affords her the ability to be who she is. She says that there has never been a day that she isn’t excited to get to work and has enjoyed making a difference in the lives of her students.

However, she doesn’t take full credit for her accomplishments. She attributes her work ethic to her mother who has been a strong influence in the woman she is today. She also gives credit to her colleagues.

“I could not do what I do without a supportive administration or staff because the teachers are the ones that hear it and know it first and they share that with me,” she said.