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 at the people in the audience, I began to feel more confident. In each direction I saw people that I knew that were there to support me. People that would continue to be there for me: my family, principal, superintendent, Kentucky Reading Project buddies, National Board supporters, and Kentucky Education Association family. I stood there for a moment and thought, “With all of these people standing with me, I will be alright!” Being part of such a strong network of people committed to educating children is a prize of its own.
Immediately following the ceremony a wonderful luncheon at the Buffalo Trace Distillery was held to bid farewell to the 2013 Teacher of the Year, Kristal Doolin, and give this year’s winners a chance to speak. SPEAK! When I watch the Tonys or the Grammys I always think it is a little funny when the winner pulls out note cards with all of the token thank yous and eloquent lines. It always seems a little presumptuous that they were prepared. As I was trying to eat lunch and converse coherently with Jim O’Brien, Ashland Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer, and Education Commissioner Terry Holiday, I was really wishing that I had a couple of prepared notecards in my own pocket. I made it through however, and next time I watch an award’s show I won’t be so quick to judge when someone pulls out their cards!
Upon my return to Murray, my school, Murray Elementary, celebrated with me and made me “Queen for the Day.” Because I know how very hard the teachers at my school work, and the dedication that they have to their students, being singled out is awkward. But one reason our school is so good, is because of the attitudes of our teachers. Just as they would celebrate joyous occasions with their students, they wanted to celebrate with me. I hope that one thing that this honor does is shine a light on all of the great teachers at my school and western Kentucky and across the state.
One of the highlights of this experience so far, has been the outpouring of kind words, congratulatory messages, cards, calls, texts, and hugs. Because I have been an educator for 26 years, I have taught many children. Every day since the announcement I have received cards in the mail. When someone takes the time to write and mail a card, it feels so sincere. The personal notes from former students and their families feel like evidence that I have made a difference. I have been touched by the kind words and fond memories.
As for my current third grade class, I am not sure they know exactly what it means for me to be named Teacher of the Year, but they assure me that they knew I was Teacher of the Year all along.
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.