Archive | Kentucky Teacher of the Year

Differentiating to meet students’ needs

Sarah Reed

Sarah Reed

By Sarah Reed
sarah.reed@jefferson.kyschools.us

Each year students enter my classroom with different levels of knowledge and individual learning styles. Not all students learn instructional content in the same way or have the same level of proficiency. Consequently, I use differentiated instruction to support the needs of my students and to maximize their learning potential. Classroom-logo

When I first began this profession, someone told me that a butterfly develops its wings when it struggles to get out of its cocoon. In my 18 years as an educator, I have come to realize that giving students challenges is what makes them stronger in dealing with new challenges. In sum, this is what causes my students to become successful in emerging from their cocoon to be as strong as they can be.

To help students become strong, it is critical to make learning fun while at the same time ensuring that language, activities, and resources focus on learning and engagement. Sometimes it is difficult to get children interested in learning really tough Kentucky Core Academic Standards. If you try to make your classroom enticing by letting students use their creative imaginations and by affording them differentiation, you will be able to bring their passion and energy to the classroom so that learning becomes a magical experience for them! Continue Reading

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Podcasts offer wealth of inspiration for teachers

Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year Joshua Underwood gives instructions to juniors Megan Huber and Amanda Lee during chemistry class at Mason County High School.  Photo by Amy Wallot, Jan. 9, 2015

Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year Joshua Underwood gives instructions to juniors Megan Huber and Amanda Lee during chemistry class at Mason County High School.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Jan. 9, 2015

By Joshua Underwood
josh.underwood@mason.kyschools.us

Being a teacher is often as much about being an entertainer as it is being a conveyor of knowledge. We have to find ways to relate to the students so that they pay attention to the lesson and learn without it feeling so much like learning. I have found a great resource in tackling this problem to be podcasts. They are a wealth of interesting stories, discoveries and humor that can easily make their way into the classroom.

I realize that podcasts are not anything new, but the format has been evolving as it has gained popularity and so now there is a larger variety of high-quality shows. Below are some of the podcasts that I listen to and have worked into my classroom.

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The power is in the classroom: Welcome!

Sarah Reed helps 3rd-grade student Deandre Woods with a multiplication problem during class at Field Elementary School (Jefferson County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Nov. 21, 2014

Sarah Reed helps 3rd-grade student Deandre Woods with a multiplication problem during class at Field Elementary School (Jefferson County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Nov. 21, 2014

By Sarah Reed
sarah.reed@jefferson.kyschools.us

When I learned that I was named Kentucky Teacher of the Year, there were only two words to describe how I felt: honored and humbled.

After I won, had photos taken, attended the luncheon (which all seemed like whirlwind to me), I got into the car and went back to my classroom to share the news with my students. I did this because without their unwavering support, none of this would have been possible. My students jumped, screamed and hugged me. They were so excited!

Soon the reporters came and interviewed me. They learned that I attributed my success to the professional development, resources and support my district and the Kentucky Department of Education provide me. I also said that if I could write a book, the title would be The Power is in the Classroom. I believe that my influence as a teacher affects every child – and I do not take that responsibility lightly.

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Ky. Teacher of the Year makes school an adventure

Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year Faye Smith of Campbell County Middle School, Kentucky Teacher of the Year Sarah Reed of Field Elementary School (Jefferson County) and Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year Joshua Underwood of Mason County High School were presented with their awards at the Capitol. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 23, 2014

Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year Faye Smith of Campbell County Middle School, Kentucky Teacher of the Year Sarah Reed of Field Elementary School (Jefferson County) and Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year Joshua Underwood of Mason County High School receive their awards at the Capitol.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 23, 2014

By Brenna R. Kelly
Brenna.kelly@education.ky.gov

After growing up in a family of educators, Sarah Reed wanted to go her own way. She worked as a paralegal, a nanny and a secretary, but none of those jobs made her happy.

Then she enrolled at a teaching college.

“That’s when I really found my passion,” she said. And thousands of students in Jefferson County are thankful that she did.

Now in her 18th year of teaching, Reed was named the 2015 Kentucky Teacher of the Year last week in a ceremony in Frankfort. Faye Smith, an 8th-grade math teacher at Campbell County Middle School, was named Middle School Teacher of the Year and Joshua Underwood, who teaches chemistry at Mason County High School, was named High School Teacher of the Year.

Reed, who will represent the state in the national Teacher of the Year contest, receives $10,000 and will be offered a semester sabbatical. Smith and Underwood receive $3,000 each.

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9 semifinalists named for Ky. Teacher of the Year

Nine outstanding teachers from across the state – three elementary, three middle and three high school teachers – are semifinalists for the 2015 Kentucky Teacher of the Year award, the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland Inc. announced Monday.

Winners of the Elementary, Middle and High School Teacher of the Year awards, in addition to the overall 2015 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, will be announced at a ceremony in Frankfort at 10 a.m. ET on Oct. 23, in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building.

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Teacher of the Year experience inspiring

Holly Bloodworth

Holly Bloodworth

What an amazing experience it has been to represent teachers throughout the commonwealth as the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. I really did not know what to expect, but every event and opportunity was a chance to learn and be inspired by those around me. I learned that our nation is full of inspiring teachers that make a difference in the lives of their students.

From Kentucky to Hawaii, and all places between, teachers work hard to advocate for the kids they teach. I also learned that it is time teachers took a place at the educational policy table, even if it makes us a little uncomfortable. Additionally, something that was brought into focus for me by this opportunity was that our state of Kentucky is educationally one of the best in the nation.

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Summer theater project has Kentucky Teacher of the Year believing

Holly Bloodworth

Holly Bloodworth

Teachers often jokingly say that their favorite things about teaching are June, July, and August. Of course this is not true because every teacher I know spends a great deal of time getting ready for the next school year, and pursuing other educational interests during the summer months. Teachers take coursework, attend professional development, read professional books and spend time searching the internet for new strategies and ideas to improve the teaching and learning for their next group of students. It only takes a few days and teachers begin looking forward to the next school year. Teachers also can be found using their talents and skills to help the community during the summer. Teachers teach Bible school, help with community book programs, camps and find themselves teaching in many capacities during the summer months. The community theater in Murray is where I spend a great deal of time during my summer.

This summer Murray’s local community theater started a new initiative called The Penguin Project. The Playhouse is the first Kentucky replication site of this amazing program that began in Illinois under the direction of Dr. Andy Morgan. “Dr. Andy” is the founder and director of The Penguin Project. He is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and the former head of the Division of Child Development at the University College of Medicine at Peoria. He is the primary Continue Reading

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Momentum is growing for teacher leadership

Holly Bloodworth

Holly Bloodworth

Leadership can take many forms. It can be take charge or by example. It can be a position or an attitude. It can be a mission or by default.  Leadership is essential to any endeavor. It is critical for success. Leadership is vital for improvement and growth, and it is there for the taking. If there is a vacuum, something will fill it.

As teachers, we often allow those vacuums to fill with people that really do not know what it is like in the classroom. Our focus is the students that we teach, and we let other people make the decisions that impact our success or failure in our classrooms. As teachers we need to begin to see our potential as educational leaders, and fill those vacuums ourselves.

As teachers we should strive to be instructional leaders. Working with other like-minded professionals is one of the best ways to grow our teaching skills. Many opportunities are available to network with other teachers and learn from the information brought from different experiences.

The Kentucky Reading Project is one of the best learning experiences I have ever had. The Kentucky Reading Project is part of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development and reaches teachers across the state through KRP sites at each regional university. Participants can earn three hours of credit, a stipend, and receive many new books and resources. This project brings together teachers, kindergarten through 5th grade, as a community of learners. For two weeks practitioners with various years of experiences come together to deepen their understanding of best practices in literacy. I have been involved for several years as a co-director, and look forward to learning with a new cadre each year. The project helps develop leadership skills through the creation of an action plan that allows teachers to go back to school and use the strategies and ideas gleaned from the course. Teachers can be the ripple that creates a wave of literacy transformation.

Teacher organizations are other venues for leadership opportunities. Collectively teachers can have a strong voice. It is with a strong voice we can be heard. We cannot take ownership of our profession unless we are willing to speak up. When we work together, we can impact decisions.  The Kentucky Education Association provides many ways for teachers to develop leadership skills. Planning is underway for the TALK Conference June 16 and 17.  The sessions are conducted by teachers, and for teachers. The conference will include great information on the new science standards, technology and proven ideas for the classroom. Teachers from all across the commonwealth will be sharing strategies and methods that they have used and found beneficial in the classroom. This conference is sponsored by several different organizations including KEA, the Kentucky Department of Education, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and the Fund for Transforming Education. This collaboration enables teachers to network and discover many opportunities to become connected with other teacher leaders.

Momentum is growing for teacher leadership. It is interesting to think about how the teaching profession might change to meet the ever increasing demands that are placed on us. Talk of hybrid roles, career continuums and change is in the air. Now more than ever teachers need to become part of the discussion.

Holly Bloodworth, a teacher at Murray Elementary School (Murray Independent), was named the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year on Oct. 16, 2013. She will be sharing her educational experiences in and outside of the classroom with Kentucky Teacher readers during her year-long reign.

 

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Hello, My Name Is…

Holly Bloodworth

Holly Bloodworth

Teachers today have many names; we are probably called many names too, but what I am talking about are all the roles we have as teachers. Teaching is a huge job, and we are called to be many things for many people.

One of our names is Believer.  Just like the song says, “Don’t stop believin’”, and we don’t.  We believe in children, and their inner power to grow and change.  We look at mistakes as opportunities, and through a growth mind set, help secure children on the path to learning.  We are optimists; we are working with the future every day.  We believe in what we do.  We work tirelessly, and we are making progress in education.  The common core standards are a good step toward preparing children to be ready for the future.  We are closing gaps.  It is slow work. It is not as fast as we would like. It is challenging work, but we are making progress.  We believe in what we do, and believe in the children we teach.

Another name we like to be called is Professional.  It is a hard time to be a teacher.  New things are coming at us left and right.  Honestly it feels like trying to drink out of a fire hose, but we know that high standards and effective teachers are good things.  Teachers are more Continue Reading

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Ready or not

Holly Bloodworth, the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, discusses bats with her students as a part of a lesson involving informational texts at Murray Elementary School (Murray Independent). Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 28, 2013

Holly Bloodworth, the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, discusses bats with her students as a part of a lesson involving informational texts at Murray Elementary School (Murray Independent). Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 28, 2013

Being named the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year is sure to be one of the most exciting professional times of my life. I am looking forward to meeting new people, learning new things, and sharing ideas with other educators across the commonwealth and our nation. I know this will be a journey of discovery for me as I grow and learn in this new role. I hope I will be able to give to others as much as I know I will gain myself.

As I stood in our state’s beautiful capitol rotunda and heard my name announced as the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, I thought, “Yikes!  I don’t know if I am ready for this!” Self-doubt swooped in like a vulture. “Am I good enough?”, “Do I really have anything to offer?” “There is so much I don’t know!” But as I looked out Continue Reading

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