Fayette County Public Schools has swept the state’s 2015 Science Teacher of the Year awards, with honors going to Hillary McWhorter of Glendover Elementary, Ashlie Arkwright of the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Bluegrass, and Elizabeth J. Pelphrey of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. They will be honored at the Kentucky Science Teachers Association’s annual conference Nov. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lexington.
“Science is not a textbook subject,” Pelphrey said. “Whether it is easing them into inquiry-based learning, or giving options and choices when it comes to how they learn, I work really hard to make sure my students have the experiences they need to leave my classroom with a strong sense of what science really is.”
Pelphrey graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s in biological sciences and from the University of Kentucky with a master’s in education. She taught for four years at Bryan Station High School; this is her second year at Dunbar. Pelphrey, who serves as chair of the science department, also recently completed a collaboration project with teachers from Colorado and Kentucky designing common assignments.
Arkwright earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in middle school education and her doctorate in education sciences from the University of Kentucky. She has taught in grades 6-8 at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Bluegrass for the past 16 years.
“I love teaching science to artistically gifted students,” she said. “Their creativity and unique perspectives provide me with endless opportunities to make meaningful connections between what we are learning in science and their everyday lives.”
McWhorter, who earned a bachelor’s in education from Hanover College and a master’s from Georgetown College, taught at Tates Creek Elementary for several years before joining Glendover in 2008. She has trained Glendover staff on the Next Generation Science Standards and serves as president of Kentucky’s Mu Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary organization for women educators.
“My greatest accomplishment in the classroom is connecting students to science in the community around them,” McWhorter said. “It is important to me for students to see that science exists outside the classroom.”