2020 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Awards and Kentucky Teacher of the Year Winners.
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A 16-year veteran educator, Ashley Nicole Adams has taught mathematics at Pikeville High School for nine years. Adams earned a bachelor’s degree at Pikeville College and a master’s degree at Morehead State University. In 2018 and 2019, she attended Effective Feedback professional-development training by International Assessment Expert Shirley Clarke at Eastern Kentucky University. Adams also led a session for fellow teachers on implementing strategies covered by Clarke and in the book Visible Learning Feedback. Adams has created and led multiple district-wide sessions on vertical alignment in the math classroom, and she serves as local treasurer of the Kentucky Education Association.
Erin Elizabeth Ball has taught language arts at Georgetown Middle School throughout her four-year teaching career. Ball earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Georgetown College. She is a member of the Teacher Effective Leadership Network for Scott County Schools. Ball also serves on the Georgetown Middle School Leadership Team and is an eighth grade team leader for her school. She served on the school’s Site Based Decision Making Council and as a cooperating teacher for a student-teacher candidate. Ball was named 2019 Scott County Middle School Teacher of the Year, and she was the 2018 Teacher of the Year for Georgetown Middle School.
Twenty-three year veteran educator Sue Ellen Ballard has taught chorus and music at Bourbon County Middle School for seven years. She earned an associate degree at Mississippi’s Meridian Community College, a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi, a master’s degree at Mississippi College and a doctoral degree at the University of Kentucky. Ballard serves as faculty adviser for her school’s Stepping Out Club. She chaired the school’s Mini-Danceathon Committee in 2018 and 2019, raising funds for children’s cancer research at UK. Ballard is a member of the Kentucky Music Educators Association and the Kentucky American Choral Directors Association. Her students have achieved distinguished ratings and been selected as Honor Choir participants throughout Ballard’s career.
A 10-year veteran educator, Melanie Callahan teaches fourth-grade students at London Elementary. Callahan earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky; a master’s degree at Bellarmine; Rank I Certification at the University of the Cumberlands; and Proficiency Certification in Theatre and Dance from Eastern Kentucky. Callahan is a Bill and Melinda Gates Fellow for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification and is pursuing a doctoral degree at Capella. She is a supervising teacher for Midway and serves as secretary of the Curriculum & Instruction Committee for Cornerstone Christian School. Callahan also is a Certified Principal/member of the Association of Christian Schools International and a Teacher of Honor/member of Kappa Delta Pi.
With 15 years in the teaching profession, Amy Michelle Cathey has taught culinary arts/family and consumer sciences at Marshall County High School for four years. Cathey earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and two teaching endorsements at Murray State. She recently participated in training on the detection/reporting of childhood abuse, neglect and dependency and will attend National Restaurant Association workshops this summer for the third consecutive year. Cathey’s professional affiliations include the Marshall County and Kentucky Education associations; Family Career & Community Leaders of America; Kentucky Association of Family & Consumer Science Educators; American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences; National Association of Teachers of Family & Consumer Sciences; and Families on the Spectrum.
James L. Cornn has taught music education/band at Corbin High School throughout his 13-year teaching career. Cornn earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Rank I Certification at the University of the Cumberlands. As head of the school’s Music Department, he assists in identifying professional-development opportunities, communicates departmental needs, leads team meetings and assists in master-schedule design. Cornn’s bands consistently earn distinguished assessment ratings, and the marching band has been a MidStates Finalist for four years. A volunteer advocate for Odyssey of the Mind, Cornn serves on the KYOOTM board, presents workshops and judges at state and world levels. His professional affiliations also include the Kentucky Music Educators Association and the National Association for Music Educators.
A five-year member of the teaching profession, Lindsay Dotterweich has taught third-grade students at Gilmore Lane Elementary throughout her career. Dotterweich earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Bellarmine University and Gifted and Talented Endorsement at the University of Louisville. She served as a presenter at 2017, 2018 and 2019 Kentucky Association for Gifted Education conferences and has presented at a number of professional-development sessions for her school. Dotterweich led one such initiative for summer camp teachers, demonstrating how to implement a literacy unit on change she developed. Dotterweich is a member of the Jefferson County Teachers and the Kentucky Education associations.
Eight-year teaching veteran Melinda Sue Earsing has taught English language arts at Ballyshannon Middle School for nearly a year. Earsing earned a bachelor’s degree at Thomas More University. She also earned a master’s degree and Educational Specialist Certification at the University of the Cumberlands. Earsing chairs the ELA Department at Ballyshannon, where she also serves as eighth-grade team leader and mentors a new teacher. She is a standards-based grading ambassador for the district, serving as a school representative on the Mastery Learning Team. Earsing also is a member of the district’s Blended Learning Teacher Leader Cohort, the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English.
Brittany Embry has taught science at Rector A. Jones Middle School throughout her five-year teaching career. Embry earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree at the University of the Cumberlands. She heads the school’s Science Department and is a member of the Academic Task Force. Embry serves as a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Tier One Coach and is part of a district-wide group of science teachers who collaborate on aligning standards and creating common success criteria/ assessments for all teachers. She is a member of the Boone County, Kentucky and National Education associations and of the National Science Teachers Association.
A four-year member of the education profession, Kayla Marie Garrett has taught kindergarten students at Mercer County Elementary School throughout her teaching career. Garrett earned a bachelor’s degree at Kentucky’s St. Catharine College and Literacy Specialist Certification at the University of the Cumberlands. She currently is working toward National Board Certification. Garrett has participated in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, the Kentucky Reading Project and Kagan training initiatives. She also is the teacher liaison for the Mercer County Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. Garrett lives by the words of Dr. James Comer: No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. As a result, she strives to build such relationships with students and parents.
Melanie Grant has dedicated her 20-year teaching career to Foley Middle School, where she teaches social studies to seventh- and eighth-grade students. Grant earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Eastern Kentucky University. She serves as a cooperating teacher for a student teacher from EKU and mentors a new teacher in her building. Grant was the recipient of a $500 grant from the Mike’s Kids Education Foundation for a Civil War unit she created. Building a safe learning environment has always been at the top of Grant’s list of priorities. She also believes in building personal relationships to help students reach their full potential. Grant is a member of the Kentucky Education Association.
A 10-year teaching veteran, Jessica Holman has taught special education classes at Boone County High School for five years. Holman earned a bachelor’s degree at Winston-Salem State University and a master’s degree from Georgetown College. She provides Elementary Science Leader Training for her district and is head chair of her school’s Community Relations Committee. Holman was among only six teachers selected as national instructional coaches by the National Science Teachers Association. She leads training in the Canvas learning-management system, serves as a Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow, and is a Next Generation Science Standards Professional Learning facilitator. Holman is a member of the Boone County, Kentucky and National Education associations.
Jill Hurt has taught family and consumer sciences at Bourbon County High School throughout her 10-year career. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Kentucky and Instructional Leadership Specialist Certification at Morehead State. Hurt mentors two new teachers and has served as a resource for seven teachers through the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program. Her professional affiliations include the Kentucky Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Association for Career and Technical Education and Alpha Delta Kappa. Hurt received a Kentucky Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Decade of Service Award, and Bourbon County High School is listed among the Elite Top 50 High School Culinary Programs in the United States by Sullivan University for 2019.
With six years in the teaching profession, Zachary Hypes has taught visual arts at East Middle School for three years. Hypes earned a bachelor’s degree at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University and a master’s degree at the University of the Cumberlands. As a member of the school’s SBDM Council, he helps organize professional-development opportunities for fellow teachers and assists with interviewing/hiring new teachers. Hypes recently helped lead a Mindfulness professional-development seminar on techniques for increasing presence of mind in the classroom. He also piloted a skateboard camp for students over the fall and spring breaks this year. Hypes daily films/edits a mini lesson on YouTube to ensure all students receive clear and engaging instruction. He is the 2019 Shelby County Schools Teacher of the Year.
A 12-year teaching veteran, Matthew David Kaufmann has taught English to high-school students at Marion C. Moore for five years. Kaufmann earned his bachelor’s degree at Bellarmine University. He also earned a master’s degree, Education Specialist Certification and 30 hours of graduate work at the University of Louisville. Kaufmann assembled his school’s first Aspen Challenge Team. He is in charge of Deeper Learning exhibitions at the school and is a member of the mentoring staff. Kaufmann’s professional affiliations include the Jefferson County, Kentucky and National Education associations, and Classroom Teachers Enacting Positive Solutions. Kaufmann is a 2019 KEA delegate.
With 25 years of teaching experience overall, Belinda Michelle Landis has taught first-grade students at Cawood Elementary for 13 years. Landis earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree and Rank I certification at Union College. Landis mentors a new kindergarten teacher and is head of the school’s first-grade teachers. She plays a lead role in the school’s writing curriculum and in implementing the district’s Non-Traditional Instructional Days for first-grade students. Landis also was instrumental in the acquisition of Chromebooks for lower primary students at Cawood. She is a member of the Kentucky Education Association.
A 22-year veteran educator, Meredith Larison has taught math, science, social studies and reading to fifth-grade students at Longbranch Elementary for seven years. Larison earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern Kentucky University. Over the course of her career, she has mentored 10 student teachers from various Kentucky universities, including Northern Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University, Thomas More College and the University of the Cumberlands. Larison serves as Math Committee chair for her school and has provided training on The 7 Habits for the Family, aimed at reinforcing study habits at home. She has trained staff members on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as well.
With 24 years of teaching experience, Melissa Lewis has taught language arts to fifth-grade students at Tygart Creek Elementary for the past six years. Lewis earned bachelor’s and two master’s degrees at Morehead State University. Over the course of her career, she has presented at a range of professional-development and other education-related initiatives and served as a resource teacher for the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program. Lewis is the 2019 Carter County Elementary Teacher of the Year and was named Professional Learning Leader of Excellence by Carter County Schools in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She is a member of the Kentucky Education Association.
An 18-year teaching veteran, Alicia W. Lyles has taught music at Elkhorn Elementary School for 10 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree at Georgetown College. Lyles also achieved certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is creator and director of Elkhorn Elementary’s Music and Drama Day Camp and pioneered the purchase and implementation of violins in the music classroom. Lyles also volunteers her time toward raising funds for the music program. As a member of Franklin County Music Educators PLC, Lyles has co-coordinated the Annual Spring Sing District Choral Concert for six years. She has served as a supervising teacher for student teachers as well.
With nearly 18 years in the teaching profession, Jennifer McFadden has taught social studies to seventh-grade students at Daviess County Middle School for 17 years. McFadden earned a bachelor’s degree at Brescia University and a master’s degree and Rank I Certification at Indiana Wesleyan University. She chairs the Social Studies Department’s PLC, coaches the academic team and coordinates the Elite Panthers Semester Awards Program for her school. McFadden has served as a supervising teacher for student teachers from area colleges/universities. She is the Daviess County Public Schools Kids First Middle School Teacher of the Year and a 2019 nominee for the Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching Award.
A 14-year veteran educator, Erin McIver has taught English to high-school students at Elkhorn Crossing School for five years. McIver earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree at Vermont’s Middlebury College. She also has achieved National Board Certification. McIver serves on the Kentucky English Language Arts High School Assessment Advisory Panel and on the District Assessment Team. She also served on the District Instructional Leadership Team and as a supervising teacher for five student teachers from Georgetown College and Eastern Kentucky University. McIver has been a Scott County Schools High School Teacher of the Year and an Elkhorn Crossing School Teacher of the Year.
Katy Piercefield has taught fourth-grade students at Erpenbeck Elementary throughout her 14-year teaching career. Piercefield earned a bachelor’s degree at Northern Kentucky University and a master’s degree at Georgetown College. As a member of the school’s Site Based Decision Making Council, Piercefield helps set school policies and procedures. She also serves on the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Committee. Piercefield mentors and observes a future teacher in math, science and social studies. In 2018 and 2019, she participated in Explicit Learning sessions, focused on different strategies for use in the classroom to reach all students. Piercefield is a recipient of the Boone County Star Award.
Three-year veteran educator Garris L. Stroud has taught science at South Hopkins Middle School for the past two years. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Murray State University and is nearing completion of a master’s degree at Murray State. Stroud has served on the ECET2WKY Executive Planning Committee and as an ECET2WKY conference organizer and session presenter. Stroud was the recipient of a Rookie of the Year Award by Education Post. His professional affiliations include the Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council, the National Geographic Society Kentucky Advisory Council, and the Hope Street Group Teacher Fellowship, for which Stroud chairs the Editorial Board.
A six-year member of the teaching profession, Taylor Sullivan has taught science at Larry A. Ryle High School for a year. Sullivan earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree at the University of Kentucky. She recently co-presented at an NKY Edcamp on utilizing positive-engagement strategies in diverse classrooms. Sullivan represented her school as a teacher leader in a district initiative on using coaching cycles to improve learning experiences. She also is founder and sponsor of the school’s Forensic Science Club. Sullivan’s professional affiliations include the Kentucky and National Science Teacher associations and the Boone County, Kentucky and National Education associations.