OKC Schools' human resource officer chooses to be inspirational

by Bryan Painter Modified: April 20, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: April 20, 2014

Professionally and in service to his country, Rodney J. McKinley rose to the position of 15th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.

But stop there, and you’ve missed the mark on why McKinley rose to that position.

And you’ll miss the beliefs he carried with him to the position of chief human resources officer for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

On a recent morning, McKinley, 58, scanned a list of some of the hundreds of inspirational tweets he has shared.

The Mount Orab, Ohio, native was asked to pull out just a couple tweets that pertain to his life in his current position.

First chosen was: “The best portion of a good man’s life is the little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”

As a school official, budget concerns represent ongoing challenges. The same was true with the military, McKinley said. But he knows it costs nothing to let others know you care about them.

“I think being kind and caring about your fellow man doesn’t cost you a penny, it’s all free to actually care about people,” McKinley said. “I try to say ‘Hi’ to everybody and smile at everybody, because you never know the impact you can have on someone’s life.”

With that, McKinley picked the list back up and soon found another he really likes to follow:

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”

“For me here, in terms of my actions in this school district, I am going to be a man of character,” McKinley said. “I choose to have strong character in how I act, my integrity, how I treat people and doing what is right. Sometimes doing what is right is very difficult because it can rub others the wrong way. But in your gut, if you feel it…”

That triggered a memory of just such an instance. McKinley has worked in the Pentagon and visited the Oval Office, so there’s no telling where his memories will land. But this one happened to be while he was a first sergeant at Tinker Air Force Base from January 1994 to July 2000.

McKinley was responsible for many individuals, including an airman who was a tech sergeant with 17 years of military service.

McKinley found out the airman had a wife at home who was bedridden.

“Before he came to work in the mornings he had to feed his wife through a tube and bathe her and then he’d go home for lunch and feed her,” McKinley said. “So he was doing all of this on his own. I sat down with him one day and I said, ‘Mike how can we help you?’”

A transfer to an Air Force Base close to their family was his reply. That way others could help him. McKinley put in the request and it was disapproved. Rather than surrender, McKinley politely pressed the issue because he felt this was “the right thing to do.” Again, he was turned down.

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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