KENNA - When someone is passionate about their work it shows in their eyes, their body language and in the timbre of their voice. They speak with fervor of their journey through their professional life and how it has brought them to where they are in this very moment.

Kay Goodwin is this person. Goodwin visited Kenna Elementary last Thursday to the delight of three Kindergarten teachers and a room full of wide-eyed students. All in attendance were anxiously awaiting the reading of the children’s book, “Otis” by their special guest. Full illustrations were digitally displayed in the room on a flat screen television so that the whole room could follow along.

While spending 35 years residing in Jackson County with her husband Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, the “Distinguished West Virginian” directed community and high school musical theatre in Jackson County for over 20 years.
“I had a 35-year love affair with this county and it continues today through the wonderful people who have touched my life along they way,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin’s accomplishments, influence and associations would bear a novel-esque reading that would be best ventured in your favorite chair with soft lighting and a cup of your favorite coffee. Her resume is long but fascinating.

Goodwin, who currently resides in Kanawha County was appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Education and the Arts in 2001 by Governor Bob Wise and reappointed by Governor Joe Manchin III and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. She serves on the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia Film Commission, the Prepaid Tuition Fund Board of Trustees and the Professional Staff Development Advisory Council. She is co-chairman of the Center for Professional Development Board, is chairman of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, is co-chairman of the West Virginia Council on Civics Literacy and is the Governor’s designee to the Educational Broadcasting Authority.

Holding a masters degree in drama, she has served on both West Virginia University and West Virginia State University faculties. Secretary Goodwin has received seven honorary doctoral degrees.
This merely scratches the surface of her accomplishments and victories for education in the arts in the Mountain State.
Kristabelle Thompson and Jessie Collins brought their students to Deanna Cunningham’s classroom and the students responded with wonder and amusement as Goodwin read each page with passion and anticipation of the next.

“We were delighted to have Mrs. Goodwin in our classroom. The kids really enjoyed the time she spent with them,” said Cuningham.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Goodwin to serve on the Independent Commission to review the grant-making procedures of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Locally, she has served on the Ripley High School Parent Advisory Committee, and the Epworth Methodist Church Administrative Board.
Goodwin reflected on how far West Virginia has come over the last two decades in relation to arts-education in public schools.

“Obviously, it takes funding. We have to make the most of grant money and we as parents and students must keep demanding that these programs continue to be funded and that we keep moving forward. We have come a long way and we must continue that path for future generations.”
“I have been so blessed to have had this position for 12 years, we all have to work together to make a difference.” added Goodwin.

Each child in attendance received a copy of “Otis” and a stuffed replication of the storybook character.
As the children gathered around to say goodbye to their special guest, one student proclaimed, “You don’t have to go, lets read another.”
Visit to watch a short video of Kay Goodwin reading at Kenna Elementary.