Picture of Shannon Kay reading, Elementary School Teacher Achievement Award Winner, New Haven Elementary School (Boone County)

As a 15-year veteran teacher, Shannon Kay knows how important education can be in a child’s life. She currently teaches 1st grade in Boone County, but she also has taught preschool and kindergarten.

Kay enjoys working with this age group because she loves to see “the children’s academic growth.”

“If I can instill a love of learning in others, I can change the trajectory of their lives,” she said.

Kay, a Cincinnati native, graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in educational leadership with a focus in diverse studies and educational theorists.

She continued her studies in child education by studying in the Kentucky Autism Cadre for four years.

This training inspired her to transform the environment of her future classroom to ensure student success by starting a classroom design for preschool and kindergarten children with autism. This classroom consisted of high, individual desks for each child to give them their own space, which were built near the school’s speech room, sensory room and a small fenced-in playground. This ensured all their therapies were close in proximity.

“I knew for many parents, this was the beginning of their educational autism journey, and I wanted to solidify from the start that we were on the same team,” Kay said. “We were in this together.”

Kay also has served as a member of the vertical reading team and has served and led the Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems team for a total of 12 years, where she works with other teachers to advance the strategies of how they approach reading and disciplinary practices.

Kay is in the process of creating a club at her school called Tiger Tales, an organization that allows Boone County Tigers to celebrate their differences by sharing their personal tales.

“From my experience in diversity studies in college, I have become passionate about celebrating people’s differences,” she said.

Because of her exemplary work as an educator in Kentucky, Kay was named as one of the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Achievement Award winners.

She lives in Boone County with her husband, David, and their two children.