The 2014 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year is taking on a new role as the next educator to sit on the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE).
Joanna Howerton Stevens, a National Board Certified Teacher from Garrard County High School (GCHS), was appointed as a member at the board’s April 20 meeting.
Stevens was selected from 19 applicants and recommended by the KBE Application Review Special Committee for the 2022-2023 non-voting teacher position. She will fill the seat that was vacated by Allison Slone. Stevens’ term will begin July 1, 2022.
“Having a teacher seated at the table during policy decisions is invaluable,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “As a teacher who is in the classroom every day, Joanna can provide the board with firsthand knowledge, experience and vision to help us move forward in providing the best educational opportunities for all of Kentucky’s students. We are excited to receive her input.”
Stevens, who will be the second teacher to serve on the board in a non-voting capacity, wants to be a voice for teachers and provide an educator’s viewpoint to discussions that will impact classrooms across the state.
“I am a proud graduate of a Kentucky public school system,” she said. “I have a strong interest in the future of our Commonwealth for my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students and my community. I am honored and excited to work with the Kentucky Board of Education to improve education in our state, leading to enhanced outcomes for our citizens in the future.”
One of Stevens’ interests is teacher recruitment.
“We know we need to recruit more people to the teaching profession and we want to keep our best teachers in our state. I want to work with the board to ensure we have the best educators in our classrooms,” she said.
KBE Chair Lu Young said the board is “excited to have Joanna join us and we welcome her as a voice for teachers. She will be instrumental as we make decisions that will impact the future of education in the Commonwealth.”
Stevens, who began her career in education in Fayette County, has 12 years of experience teaching secondary mathematics, including eight years at her alma mater, the Lincoln County School District.
Her diverse experience as an educator allows her to bring insight from two different perspectives – teaching at one of the state’s largest school districts, Fayette County, and at two rural districts, Garrard and Lincoln counties.
“The needs of students and teachers in these districts vary based on their size, location and resources,” she said. “I would like to share my voice to represent differing districts at the state level.”
Stevens said she is accustomed to changes in the required academic standards and state assessments.
“I would like to offer the teacher perspective on adopting and implementing new standards and assessments in our classrooms,” she said.
Along with her experiences in the classroom, Stevens also has served on state panels during the standards revision and assessment item review processes.
“I have greatly benefited from these opportunities and I want to ensure more teachers know their voice is needed and valued when making changes to our standards and assessments,” she said.
Stevens has a bachelor’s degree, graduating summa cum laude, and a master’s, both in education, from the University of Kentucky.
She is a Desmos Fellow, a 2018 Desmos Certified presenter, a 2018 Google Certified for Education educator, Levels 1 and 2, and a Google Certified for Education trainer.
At Garrard County High School, Stevens – who teaches Algebra II, Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus and AP Computer Science Principles – has served as chair of the Mathematics Department, as a mathematics coach and as a new teacher mentor since 2020.
She taught mathematics at Lincoln County High School from 2011 to 2019, where she also was the math content lead specialist (2013-2019), a leadership team member, Kentucky Teacher Internship Program Resource Teacher, the writing program review standard lead, summer school coordinator, schoolwide coaching session instructor and ACT preparation teacher.
Stevens taught mathematics at Lafayette High School (Fayette County) from 2010-2011 and served on the Career Preparation Committee.
She has served on the Kentucky Department of Education’s Mathematics Range-Finding Committee, Mathematics Standard Advisory Panel and the Teacher Effectiveness Steering Committee. She was a mathematics assessment writer and a member of the Gates Foundation’s Breakthrough Accelerator Project for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and the Math Kentucky School Finance Study Advisory Committee.
She served as a delegate to the National Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching Conference.
Stevens said she is ready to embrace the challenge ahead.
“Helping students chase their dreams is my ultimate goal as a teacher,” she said. “I encourage my students to embrace the quote ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ I take this concept seriously and I am pursuing this opportunity because I want to chase my dream and change education for the better.”