- 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year winner Holly Bloodworth spent 32 years at Murray Elementary School.
- Bloodworth now teaches the next generation of educators as a full-time faculty member in Murray State’s College of Education and Human Services and co-directs the university’s Kentucky Reading Project.
By Jennifer Ginn
Holly Bloodworth, the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year who spent 32 years teaching at Murray Elementary School (Murray Independent), originally planned on being a nurse during her first three years at Murray State University.
“As I started going out into the field and working with patients, what I found I really loved in nursing was the patient interview, the bathing and the feeding,” she said, “all of those nurturing types of things. My first semester as a junior, I had a class where I was connected to a woman in the last trimester of her pregnancy. I had to create a lot of lessons to help teach her things about caring for her baby. I loved that.
“I love people. I love connecting with them and I love teaching them. To me, that’s what teaching is all about, connecting with people and having a good lesson to teach them.”
Bloodworth, now a member of the Kentucky Board of Education, taught all subjects in grades K-3 and served as a literacy specialist during her three decades at Murray Elementary.
She also served as a literacy consultant for the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative and worked on teacher leadership projects and with National Board-certified teachers while on special assignment with the Kentucky Department of Education.
After she retired, Bloodworth took on yet another role in public education – teaching the next generation of teachers as a full-time faculty member in Murray State’s College of Education and Human Services and co-directing the university’s Kentucky Reading Project, which leads graduate-level courses in literacy for area teachers.
“I think I just didn’t feel finished,” she said. “I’m pretty young and I still have a lot of energy. I felt like it would be a nice way to cap my career, by being able to leave something behind in the next generation of teachers. I just have all of this accumulated knowledge. I don’t see myself writing a book. This is my way of passing information along that I have gathered.”
When the opportunity to serve on the KBE came up, Bloodworth saw it as another opportunity to pass along her perspective of someone who has dedicated her life to education, including earning recognition as a National Board Certified Teacher.
“I’ve always been involved in education,” Bloodworth said. “I’ve worked with the National Board, other groups that emphasize teacher voice. I was so frustrated at the lack of input from people who I felt knew what it was like to be in a classroom. I didn’t just want to be somebody who complained. I was very honored people thought I could represent the profession in this capacity.”
One of the things Bloodworth said she would like to work on while serving on the board is increasing the number and diversity of teachers in Kentucky’s public schools.
The importance of increasing teacher diversity in the state played out in front of her at Murray State recently.
“The other day I was talking to a potential student here at Murray State,” she said. “It was a delightful conversation. Her parents were there. She’s a lovely African American young woman. As we were coming out of my office, Dr. Stephanie Hendrith, who is an African American professor, was there and we stopped and talked to her for a little while.
“I watched this student’s face as she looked at Dr. Hendrith and I just kind of teared up. It was so obvious to me how she loved seeing someone who looked like her in the College of Education. We say that, but I’m really seeing it here on this girl’s face and how much it meant to her family. How they talked to me was different than how they talked to her. It felt like a relationship.
“It really just struck me how important it is to make sure we are recruiting and retaining quality teachers that represent all the diversity of Kentucky in our state, so students do get to see teachers that look like them.”
Bloodworth’s term will expire April 14, 2024.