Keeping secret Dr. Debbie Faubus-Kendrick’s selection as the 2017 Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year recipient was not an easy task.

As family, friends and co-workers gathered at the Crawford County Adult Education Center, they were cautioned not to turn on the lights in the meeting room.

“If she sees the lights on, she will come in here to turn them off,” Laura Bean, AEC career coach, warned. “We have to save on everything.”

Debbie Foliart, the 2016 citizen of the year recipient, kept Faubus-Kendrick in her office after scheduling a meeting in Faubus-Kendrick’s busy schedule so representatives from the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce could make the surprise announcement of the Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year Award, which was created in 1987 to honor the memory of Iverson Riggs, founder and publisher of the Crawford County Courier newspaper.

“The best part of this award is I knew Iverson,” Faubus-Kendrick said. “I worked for him … he was one of my buds.”

Faubus-Kendrick said she was shocked when Lisa Huckelbury Fort presented her with a bouquet of flowers when she entered the meeting room and told why family, friends and co-workers were gathered.

“I am still in a daze,” Faubus-Kendrick said. “We do what we do because it needs to be done, not to be recognized.”

And, she generously donates her time, talent and resources for the betterment of the community, Fort said.

“Debbie is my friend and everyone’s friend,” Fort said. “Everyone knows what Debbie does every day to help the adult education center and the community. She has a passion for what she is involved in. We cannot thank her enough.”

Faubus-Kendrick, director of the CCAEC, will be formally recognized at the chamber’s June 8 annual meeting in the Commons at Van Buren High School.

“Debbie is the face of the Crawford County Adult Education Center,” Fort wrote in her nomination for Faubus-Kendrick. “She has brought statewide and national recognition to our community and the educators and students we serve. You won’t find a more caring individual.”

Faubus-Kendrick has been an educator for 35 years and has been director of the CCAEC for more than nine years. She is an adjunct psychology professor for Vincennes University.

She earned her Ed.D from the University of Arkansas. She has served as president and vice president of the Arkansas Association of Continuing and Adult Education, president of the Arkansas Association of Adult Education Administrators and secretary of the Arkansas Adult Education Advisory Council.

Faubus-Kendrick currently serves as legislative chairperson for Arkansas Adult Education, representative for the regional WIOA board and a Northwest representative for the Arkansas Adult Education Advisory Council. She was chosen by Arkansas Association of Alternative Educators as 2008 outstanding teacher of the year and 2014 AACAE outstanding administrator of the year.

She is involved in several community activities including Parents as Teachers supervisor, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, Head Start Policy Council and board and State Plumbing Examiners Board. She was instrumental in bringing Vincennes University classes to Crawford County which precipitated the first university graduation in the county.

Faubus-Kendrick was recently elected as secretary for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education.

COABE is 13,000 members strong and provides a variety of services including providing competitive national-level awards, incentive grants, and scholarship opportunities annually through special funding provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

As COABE secretary, Faubus-Kendrick will be responsible for representing COABE and Arkansas adult education nationally. She will be involved in important national adult education decisions as the field continues to move forward with the implementation of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, according to Don Finn, president of COABE.

Faubus-Kendrick has been a member of COABE for nine years, and she has served as the COABE Region 6 representative.