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story.lead_photo.caption Kim Billingsley was appointed to the Bryant School Board on June 7. She replaces Rhonda Sanders, who resigned after 10 years of service. Billingsley wears many hats for the community and also serves as a volunteer at Indian Springs Baptist Church in Bryant. - Photo by Sam Pierce

Kim Billingsley has a passion to serve others. Whether it is with her church, her job or her newly appointed position as a Bryant School Board member — she believes God calls her to be a servant.

“My whole life, I have been really involved in lots of areas,” Billingsley said. “I wouldn’t call it overwhelmed, but I don’t have a lot of extra time for extra fluff.

“My husband and I wear lots of different hats. We want to teach our kids that it is important to serve and to be involved, and it is who God calls us to be.

“With our community, our church and our places of business, it is part of who we are. It is just who I am. If I was sitting on the couch at home, I would be bored.”

Billingsley was appointed to the school board on June 7, and she said she “hit the ground running.” She met with Superintendent Karen Walters the same week to go over Billingsley’s expected duties.

“Mrs. Billingsley has deep roots in the Bryant community,” Walters said in a statement. “As a graduate of Bryant and a parent of three boys in the Bryant Public Schools, she has a passion for providing the best opportunities for students.

“She has already become a valuable member of the board and the whole Bryant team.”

Billingsley’s school-board term will end in May. She said she intends to run in the next election. She replaces Rhonda Sanders, who resigned after 10 years of service.

“My goals are very generic,” Billingsley said, “and they include serving where I am needed and being a listener to who needs an ear — whether it is via phone or being caught out in the community.

“I want to listen to the concerns from people who are in my ward or zone, or those who just know I have been elected and want to pass their concerns along to the schools and the board.”

Billingsley said she knows it is going to be a tough year, but she hopes to be a voice of reason and help Bryant stay on budget for the district’s many ongoing projects.

As a board member, her responsibilities include being present at all of the meetings and helping set the mission and the direction for the schools.

“We will also conduct hearings when necessary, evaluate the superintendent and oversee finances in the budget,” Billingsley said. “Something I did not know until I put my name in for the school board is that we are required to have so many hours, as far as continuing education with professional development.”

Billingsley grew up in Bauxite but graduated from Bryant High School in 1999. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2003. She worked for 14 years at Sardis United Methodist Church, first as a children’s minister for almost 12 years, then as director of the preschool program at the church.

She decided to go back to school after seeing the positive impact an occupational therapist had on her oldest son, Colson.

“When my oldest was in the third grade, he was a little bit behind in a lot of areas, and I asked the doctor for an occupational-therapy evaluation because he wasn’t able to do what most third-grade little boys should be able to do,” she said. “Eventually, Colson started in occupational therapy, but also physical therapy, vision therapy and speech therapy.

“And he came out a totally different child. He went from being a child who didn’t have much confidence to someone who embodies confidence. … It totally changed his life.”

Billingsley said that with all her experience in working with kids, she thought being an occupational therapist would be a perfect fit for her. She graduated from Baptist Health College in Little Rock in May 2016 and works as a certified occupational-therapy assistant for the Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute Outpatient Therapy Center in Little Rock. After serving in an internship role, she believed she was made to do therapy with adults.

“My son inspired me to go back to school, but my internship inspired me to work with adults,” Billingsley said. “The majority of our caseload are amputee patients.”

Billingsley’s husband, Carlton, serves on the Bryant City Council, volunteers at Indian Springs Baptist Church and is a volunteer baseball coach. He is also a former president of the Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

“Some people are a little slower in getting involved,” Indian Springs pastor Tom Williams said. “I tell people to usually give yourself a year to settle in and get to know people.

“[The Billingsleys] just have a solid commitment to Christ and the church. It didn’t take long; it was just full steam ahead.

“She has a great family. Her husband is just a great guy and the kind of people, for pastors, that make it worthwhile. They carry the burdens with you.”

Williams has been the pastor at Indian Springs for almost 23 years and has known the Billingsleys for a little more than five years.

“I think Kim is the kind of lady, when she comes into the room, the lights get brighter and the mood gets lighter,” he said. “She has a very infectious personality and has many positive qualities.

“She is capable of doing a lot of different things, and she does a lot of different things really well. She is just a real unique lady and a real godly lady.”

Kim volunteers as a Sunday School teacher for eighth-grade girls, and Carlton leads the ninth-grade boys. Kim sings with the Praise and Worship Team, and he is also chairman of the Building Committee.

“We just both serve wherever, just wherever we are needed. Our church averages 900 between the two services,” Kim Billingsley said.

“I don’t see how she does all that she does,” Williams said. “Her priority is Christ. He helps keep it all in sync, and her family is second. All the other things just fall in line behind Christ and her family.

“I think when you are doing things right, it works. She is a high-energy person, and she makes me tired just watching her. I think she has her priorities right.”

When Billingsley had her live interview in front of the school board, one of the things she said was, “If you aren’t learning, you’re dying.”

“I am a product of good education,” Billingsley said. “Through Bryant, I got a wonderful education, as well as UALR and Baptist Health.

“For me, my whole life has been about learning, so it has kind of been a coined statement of mine — to have a good base of education is to be able to go out and be successful, and you can’t do that without education.”

Billingsley said education is really important to her in that it has helped her gain leadership skills and be successful as an adult.

“As a school, we want to give kids these opportunities to see where they fit best, because so often, they have no idea what they want to do at the next level,” she said.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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