Waipā King Country Life Education Trust (LET) vice-chairman Ken Miller received a Life Membership Award at the national conference in Wellington, recognising 18 years of exceptional service.
The Te Awamutu man began his association with LET in 2003 when he was principal of Te Kuiti Primary School.
The following year he continued as a trustee and took on the role of educator liaison, where he personally contacted 70 schools within Waipā King Country. Ken was able to sign up 68 schools to commit to having Life Education as a part of their curriculum.
He also became the primary driver of the mobile classroom, delivering it to schools over a large area at night, and up to three times each week after working long days as a principal.
Ken also took on the role of maintaining the classroom - washing, preparing and insuring the classroom, looking after the COF and any refurbishments and updates that were required.
In 2008 the trust suffered a serious setback when the classroom was lost to an arson.
Ken led the recovery efforts, supporting the educator and trust with restorative justice meetings, was pivotal in supporting the educator in regrouping and continuing the trust's mahi, co-ordinated school support and saving smoke damaged resources.
He also co-ordinated the acquisition of a new classroom and personally drove it from Christchurch to Te Awamutu.
In 2013 Ken was first appointed as deputy chairman and was crucial in keeping the trust operating as trust chairs were overseas.
The trust took part in Christmas parades, organised and ran successful fundraisers and Ken was to the fore as a problem solver – key to the era when the Waipā King Country trust became substantially financial.
By 2016, as the trust grew, the need for a second classroom was recognised.
The second classroom would enable Waipā King Country to continue reaching schools on a regular basis, focusing on prediction of school growth and needs of outside providers.
Ken was again to the fore, and researched and communicated the needs of a new educator, continued to drive and co-ordinate drivers for primary classroom and set up support for secondary classroom and secured the donation of a new truck.
He also continued his role to oversee the maintenance and health and safety of classroom.
The following year he played a pivotal role in recruiting a new part-time educator, directed the upgrade of the new classroom to a high standard and established a secure support team of drivers for the two classrooms, while filling in as a back-up.
His experience became apparent in 2020 as Ken supported and gave pertinent advice to trustees and educators during the Covid crisis.
He gave huge support to educators and trustees on how to deal with schools and health and wellbeing during Covid lockdown and as a result Waipā King Country was able to maintain contact with its schools.
This was achieved by giving support to educators and their vulnerable whānau by taking a mobile classroom to a safe place, allowing educators to still reach over 1200 students via video link when they couldn't go into the schools and allowing a safe and strong return once restrictions were eased.
This year Ken has continued in his deputy chairman role and is now personally moving both classrooms around the Waipā King Country rohe - overseeing maintenance of both classrooms, supporting both educators with timetables and taking care of maintenance.