Several local leaders do not want this year to end without bringing Norma Kirby, PhD, to the attention of our community.
Her most special super power may well be her incomparable organizational skills, coupled with a generous willingness to expend her time and energy to help both organizations and individuals that could benefit. And the past one-and-a-half years of global pandemic have especially shown that many organizations and individuals needed extra help.
As a co-director of the Fayette County Food Pantry, based in Washington C.H.’s First Presbyterian Church, Dr. Kirby has been an essential worker who continues to show up weekly, even after Ohio went into a COVID-19 lockdown in mid-March 2020. At times her responsibilities stretched into the evenings, when programs she presented about the food pantry brought in additional donations.
For the past 20 years she has also been a loyal board member of Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health, a regional institution which eases the mind and soul just as food from the food pantry eases the body.
She has also served for the past decade as a director of the Adena Fayette Medical Center Foundation Board, the organization that works to raise funds aimed at purchasing equipment and remodeling our local hospital’s facilities.
According to Whitney Gentry, the hospital’s Manager of Community Relations: ”Dr. Kirby was one of the founding board members of our organization back in 2010, and has served faithfully since. She has been a devoted board member, always concerned with how what we do will benefit patients first. I have never known her to give anything but her very best. She is a special person: We were fortunate to have her associated with the Foundation Board through the end of 2021, and I am grateful to be able to call her a friend.”
Dr. Kirby and husband Mitchell co-chaired the 2017 levy campaign for the Fayette County Board of Developmental Disabilities, a several months-long effort that resulted in Fayette County’s favorable-voting percentage ending up second only to Franklin County among the dozen other such levies around the state that year. It was also the highest percentage of local support seen in recent decades. Thereafter, Dr. Kirby also worked on the legal issues that earned coveted 501(c)(3) nonprofit-organization status so that donations could flow in for special local DD projects.
It is in education, however, that Dr. Kirby may have made her most extensive and wide-ranging contributions to this community. Very early in a distinguished career with the Miami Trace Local Schools, she was honored as the Outstanding New Teacher; and toward the end of her career, Miami Trace named a section of the elementary school library “Kirby’s Korner” in recognition of her 35 years of service.
Among her professional positions during those decades were principal of Milledgeville and Chaffin Elementary Schools, director of the Miami Trace Preschool, and dean of (elementary) students. She was famous for knowing students’ names, playground games and lunchroom behavior. She recognized and celebrated their achievements in class work, homework and social interactions.
Since retiring, Dr. Kirby has twice served two-year terms as president of the Fayette County Retired Teachers Association, an organization that boasts more than 100 local retired educators. According to current FCRTA President Karen Bernard: “Respect has always been a two-way street with Dr. Kirby, and she wants everyone to succeed. She brings that same philosophy to FCRTA. By consistently giving her best every day, she inspires a hard-working loyalty from others, and helps make our small corner of the world a better place.”
In Delta Kappa Gamma, a highly respected international honorary society for key female educators, Dr. Kirby served as president of the local chapter (the largest in Ohio). At the state level she was elected to numerous offices, culminating in a two-year term in 2011-13 as the state president. During that time she traveled to meetings of many of Ohio’s 80-plus chapters to advise and consult. In addition, she has served as chairman and efficient secretary of DKG’s Ohio State Organization Educational Foundation, which spearheads the fundraising and administers all of this state’s DKG scholarships and grants.