Ron A. Skillern named 2017 Kentucky Teacher of the Year

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Teacher of the Year award winners pose with Commissioner Stephen Pruitt after the award ceremony at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. From left are, 2017 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Ron Skillern of Bowling Green High School, Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year Sarah Mills of Eastside Middle School, and Kentucky Elementary Teacher of the Year Kellie Jones of Taylor County Elementary School are congratulated by Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt. Photo by Bobby Ellis, Oct. 19, 2016
Teacher of the Year award winners pose with Commissioner Stephen Pruitt after the award ceremony at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. From left are, 2017 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Ron Skillern of Bowling Green High School, Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year Sarah Mills of Eastside Middle School, and Kentucky Elementary Teacher of the Year Kellie Jones of Taylor County Elementary School.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Oct. 19, 2016

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – A 30-year veteran teacher at Bowling Green High School, Ron A. Skillern, is the 2017 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

Valvoline, Inc.™ and the Kentucky Department of Education made the announcement today at a ceremony held at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Gov. Matt Bevin; Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Deputy Secretary Brad Montell; Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt; and Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, were on hand to make the presentation.

Kellie Jones, a 4th-grade science teacher at Taylor County Elementary, is the 2017 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Sarah Mills, a 7th-grade science teacher at Eastside Middle School in Bullitt County, is the 2017 Middle School Teacher of the Year.

The three joined 21 other teachers from across the state honored with 2017 Valvoline Inc. Teacher Achievement Awards.

“Teachers are our most important asset and these teachers represent the best in the state,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt. “Teachers are the ones who stand between I can and I can’t, between knowledge and ignorance and between impossible and possible. Each day in the classroom, Kentucky’s teachers prove that students can reach the high levels of achievement that will prepare them for success in college, careers and life.”

In a statement, Education Secretary Hal Heiner said, “the 24 teachers recognized this year truly epitomize the finest educators in Kentucky because they were nominated by their peers, students, parents and administrators, and they go through a rigorous process to be named to this elite group of professionals.”

“Teachers not only impact the classroom, they influence every workplace in our state,” Heiner said. “Thank you to all our teachers who dedicate themselves each day to challenging their students and helping them reach their full potential.”

Jones and Mills received $3,000 each and a customized, art-glass vase from Valvoline Inc., while Skillern received $10,000 and a commemorative crystal-glass bowl. In addition, the Kentucky Department of Education will provide a sabbatical or suitable alternative for Skillern, who also will represent the state in the 2017 National Teacher of the Year competition. The remaining 21 winners each received $500 cash awards. All 24 teachers received framed certificates and were recognized at a luncheon following the ceremony.

“I’m pleased to honor and recognize the 24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners and the Kentucky Teachers of the Year. Teachers play a critical role in helping to both shape and inspire a child’s desire for learning,” said Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, Inc.

Valvoline and the Kentucky Department of Education co-sponsor the Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards. Applications for the program were distributed across the state. The first tier of the selection process was completed in August, with 24 teachers selected as 2017 Valvoline Inc. Teacher Achievement Award winners.

Nine top scorers – each from the elementary, middle and high school levels – were selected, and teams of educators visited their classrooms to view them at work and to conduct personal interviews. From those nine, three were selected as 2017 Kentucky Teachers of the Year. The selection of the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year was based on the compilation of scores from all phases of the judging.

The Kentucky Teacher Awards program combines the best elements of what was formerly known as the Ashland Teacher Achievement Awards. Valvoline separated from Ashland to become a publicly traded company headquartered in Lexington, and is now sponsoring the Teacher Achievement Awards and the Kentucky Teacher of the Year programs. This marks the 16th year the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland/Valvoline have partnered to honor Kentucky educators. Since 1988, approximately $776,500 has been awarded to 524 teachers in grades K to 12.

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