Diane Porter’s philosophy on life is pretty simple – she’s all about the kids.
In fact, Porter has been part of Louisville’s educational system since she started first grade at the Virginia Avenue School, just down the street from her childhood home on Greenwood Avenue.
“I’m not a good elected official, I’m a good educator who cares about kids,” says Porter, who is the current chairwoman of the Jefferson County Public Schools board and will be on the ballot for her third four-year term this fall. “The concept of running for the board was different for me. I am an elected official but politics is not a life I have ever lived. All I wanted to do is get on the board to help kids. I had to be coached to campaign.”
Representing District 1, she’s responsible for 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, four high schools, and 14 special schools, such as the Youth Performing Arts School. And she says she fills her days visiting the schools in her district. On one recent January afternoon, she was at Wheatley Elementary helping to prepare weekend packages for students as part of the Blessings in a Backpack charity.
“I love being in our schools,” she says. “On the first day of school, I went to nine schools. I just let them know I’m there and I support them. I go in and say good morning. I had a superintendent that did that when I was a principal and I thought it was pretty nice.”
Porter retired from JCPS – where she had been a teacher, counselor and administrator for almost 40 years – in 2009. The next year, she was appointed to fill the District 1 seat vacated by Ann Elmore, and she has put her energy into school board issues since, winning elections in 2010 and 2014.
She helped establish the first JCPS satellite office in 2018, a place where parents and students use computers and hold meetings. Located in the California Community Center, it’s the first of its kind for JCPS, but a concept that Porter thinks will spread to other parts of town. She said that she’s working with Passport Health Plan to establish one in the company’s new headquarters being built on West Broadway.
After participating in a Leadership Louisville class, she helped establish the “Little Free Library” book exchange program that’s drawing raves in the West End. That program allows individuals to donate books that are easily accessible to kids. The program places the books in bird-feeder sized houses in a number of different neighborhoods, and started in 40210.
Porter is proud to say she’s never left the West End, and she’s never stopped being a part of the education system. In her upcoming race for school board, she wants to keep her seat because there are important issues before the board and she wants her voice to be heard.
“The first time, I said I’d run for one term, but now I am looking forward to another four years,” she says. “It’s important to have a passion for the kids, that’s the key ingredient for board members.”