(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Kellie Clark, a 16-year veteran teacher at Randall K. Cooper High School in Boone County, is the 2018 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.
Valvoline, Inc.™ and the Kentucky Department of Education made the announcement May 16 at a ceremony held at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton; Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Director Mardi Montgomery; Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt; and Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, were on hand to make the presentation.
Belinda Raye Furman, a 2nd-grade teacher at Sherman Elementary in Grant County, is the 2018 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Jennifer Meo-Sexton, a visual arts teacher at Bondurant Middle School in Franklin County, is the 2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year.
The three joined 21 other teachers from across the state honored with 2018 Valvoline, Inc. Teacher Achievement Awards.
“Teachers are our most important asset and these teachers represent the best in the state,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt. “These teachers have shown again and again they are committed to doing whatever it takes to ignite the passion, potential and possibility in each and every one of their students. They also serve as invaluable partners and leaders in Kentucky education, often going outside of their classrooms to share their insights and expertise as we formulate ways to take all of our students to higher levels of learning.”
Furman and Meo-Sexton received $3,000 each and a customized, art-glass vase from Valvoline, Inc., while Clark received $10,000 and a commemorative crystal-glass bowl. In addition, the Kentucky Department of Education will provide a sabbatical or suitable alternative for Clark, who also will represent the state in the 2018 National Teacher of the Year competition.
The remaining 21 winners each received $500 cash awards. All 24 teachers received framed certificates and were recognized at a luncheon following the ceremony.
“It is my pleasure to once again recognize the 24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners and the Kentucky Teachers of the Year. Having the opportunity to recognize and support outstanding teachers that bring energy, passion and dedication to the classroom highlights our commitment to community, especially in preparing students to excel in a global society,” said Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, Inc.
Valvoline and the Kentucky Department of Education co-sponsor the Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards. Applications for the program were distributed across the state, and the first tier of the selection process was completed in March, with 24 teachers selected as 2018 Valvoline Inc. Teacher Achievement Award winners.
The nine top scorers – three each from the elementary, middle and high school levels – were selected, and teams of educators visited their classrooms to view them at work and to conduct personal interviews. From those nine, three were selected as 2018 Kentucky Teachers of the Year. The selection of the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year was based on the compilation of scores from all phases of the judging.
The Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards program combines the best elements of what was formerly known as the Ashland Teacher Achievement Awards. Valvoline separated from Ashland to become a publicly traded company headquartered in Lexington, Ky., and is now sponsoring the Teacher Achievement Awards and the Kentucky Teacher of the Year programs.
This marks the 17th year the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland/Valvoline have partnered to honor Kentucky educators. Since 1988, the program has awarded more than $800,000 to 548 teachers in grades K to 12.