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Kenny Mackey – an ED/Story

Everyone has an ED/story - an educational experience. What was learning like for you? Was it hard? Did you get help from a teacher or family member? Or did you figure it out on your own? Were there lessons both inside and outside the classroom?
Well, this ED/Story starts literally on the streets of Ione where a small boy changed his mind from being a policeman to being a fireman.
From the preschool housed in the Methodist Church to elementary school to high school, Fire Chief Kenny Mackey was educated in Ione and has nothing but praise bordering on reverence for the education he received there AND for the people who educated him. He further describes how his work does NOT require a college degree - it does of course require knowledge and skills, coming almost exclusively through in-house training, hand-ons practice and knowing the fundamentals of team work and communication.
This is all perfectly fine information for a piece on educational experiences; HOWEVER it didn’t take long to realize - there were two subjects of this interview; KENNY MACKEY…you know…the guy the story’s SUPPOSED to be about!….but ALSO “Other People”
For, it seems it is NOT possible for Kenny Mackey to talk about how he learned, what influenced him, or who he has become without him giving credit elsewhere.
Starting with the very night he decided to be fireman. As fire destroyed a neighbors house and flames came uncomfortably near their own home, Kenny and his young siblings were safely placed in the family car parked across the street. Kenny recalls being upset, afraid - and he ALSO recalls several volunteer firemen (men he actually later went on to work with) taking time, coming over to the car to comfort him. They explained what was being done and how the fire would be put out and it’s to those men Kenny gives credit for his dedication to serve with care, keeping foremost the well being and safety of the public.
…and the former fire chief and one time Ione High principal who allowed Kenny to leave school at the first sound of the fire alarm! Kenny purchased, with his own money, a pager and was required to keep up his grades, but he had permission to GO to the fires! He’d follow the first responders, who would in turn inform him of the status of the fire. At that time there were no cell phones, minimal use of radios, so once he had the information he would LITERALLY go to the nearest home and USE THEIR PHONE to call dispatch, requesting the necessary personnel and equipment. He credits that opportunity and hands-on experience with his ability to quickly assess a situation and effectively communicate the most vital and life saving information.
…and to a high school coach who he says is STILL a positive influence in his life, having played a part in supporting and mentoring Kenny’s own son and who had a poster on the wall of the boys locker room that read “A man who gives in will never win” To him Kenny attributes his ability to keep going and always do his best.
For every accomplishment attributed to him, to every success achieved, he passes it off to Other People, to the result of opportunities they gave him, and really to a whole community in which he proudly still resides and certainly proudly serves.
…and I thought, well that’s it, that’s the story…but it wasn’t the whole story — it wasn’t the ED/Story.
Kenny Mackey gives credit to how he learned, how he has succeeded and who he is by saying he “has a lot of people to thank” and in his mind the most effective way to give thanks is to GIVE BACK.
…and he does…
By accessing resources from a number of agencies and through the efforts of several people (most notably Mrs Kenny Mackey - or who we now LOVE to call FIRE CHIEF DEBBIE MACKEY as she was recently instated fire chief of the City of Jackson Fire Dept — and YES! whose ED/Story we WILL be hearing) — through these efforts the Ione Fire Dept is home to a vital and effective fire cadet training program. About 80 cadets have gone through this program and most have gone on to serve in some way, either in fire/police or military. Kenny describes how the program delivers hands-on training, sharpens skills, and teaches discipline. But what Kenny values most in this mentoring is HIS call to young people - to all people really - to volunteer and get involved in their community, for he believes fully that opportunities given can really only be truly meaningful if they are in some way, given back.
Hearing about the cadet program made me realize what knowledge Kenny has, and I said you really are the perfect person aren’t you, to do training and teaching.
…to which Kenny replied…
“You are, for the rest of your career, what you learned in basic. As long as you focus on the basics and never forget where you came from you’re always learning and always teaching somebody”
…funny…he thinks he’s describing how he approaches his job…his career…
Silly boy…I wonder if Kenny Mackey realizes he’s describing exactly how he lives his whole life…
…and that’s an ED/Story

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