24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners named

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Belinda Raye Furman, from left, the 2018 Kentucky Elementary School Teacher of the Year from Sherman Elementary (Grant County); Kellie Clark, the 2018 Kentucky Teacher of the Year from Randall K. Cooper High School (Boone County); and Jennifer Meo-Sexton, the 2018 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year from Bondurant Middle School (Franklin County) pose for a photo after the Kentucky Teacher of the Year Ceremony last year in the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort. The 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award winner will be announced in Frankfort in May. Photo by Bobby Ellis, May 16, 2017
Belinda Raye Furman, from left, the 2018 Kentucky Elementary School Teacher of the Year from Sherman Elementary (Grant County); Kellie Clark, the 2018 Kentucky Teacher of the Year from Randall K. Cooper High School (Boone County); and Jennifer Meo-Sexton, the 2018 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year from Bondurant Middle School (Franklin County) pose for a photo after the Kentucky Teacher of the Year Ceremony last year in the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort. The 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award winner will be announced in Frankfort in May.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, May 16, 2017

(Frankfort, KY) – The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc. have selected 24 outstanding Kentucky educators as recipients of the 2019 Valvoline™ Teacher Achievement Awards (TAA). These teachers qualify to compete for the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in May.

“Valvoline is pleased to honor once again and recognize some of Kentucky’s outstanding teachers. These individuals play a critical role in preparing students for life after high school graduation, whether that be in college or the workforce,” said Daryl Love, Valvoline’s manager of community relations.

The 24 winning teachers are:

Elementary School

  • NyRee D. Clayton-Taylor, Phyllis Wheatley Elementary, Jefferson County
  • Lindsey Depenbrock, Wellington Elementary, Fayette County
  • Megen Gearhart, Olive Hill Elementary, Carter County
  • Ashley Whitehead-Judd, Tyner Elementary, Jackson County
  • Amanda Klare, Beechwood Elementary, Beechwood Independent
  • Candace A. Nickles, Beaver Creek Elementary, Knott County
  • Matthew Pollock, Brandenburg Primary, Meade County
  • Samantha Tabor, Concord Elementary, McCracken County

Middle School

  • Larry Bailey, Ashland Middle, Ashland Independent
  • Jessica Dueñas, Oldham County Middle, Oldham County
  • Scott Dunn, Meece Middle, Somerset Independent
  • Hope K. Foster, Murray Middle, Murray Independent
  • Christina O’Bryan Howard, College View Middle, Daviess County
  • Brooke Powers, Beaumont Middle, Fayette County
  • Kerri Stanfield, Mason County Middle, Mason County
  • Emmanuel A. Stone, Shelby County West Middle, Shelby County

High School

  • Kelli Akers, Betsy Layne High, Floyd County
  • Christy Bickett, North Bullitt High, Bullitt County
  • Cayeann Cowan, Robertson County High, Robertson County
  • Steve Easley, Daviess County High, Daviess County
  • Tiffany Marsh, Paul Laurence Dunbar High, Fayette County
  • Susan E. McLaughlin, Lafayette High, Fayette County
  • Jeremy Phillips, Madison Central High, Madison County
  • Abigail A. Wheaton, Union County High, Union County

All 24 teachers will be honored at a ceremony on May 15 in Frankfort. Government officials, state dignitaries and Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, will honor the teachers and recognize the Kentucky Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year. From this group of three finalists, the Kentucky Teacher of the Year will be named and will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Valvoline will present the 24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award recipients with cash awards and certificates at the ceremony. In addition to cash awards, the three Kentucky Teachers of the Year also will receive custom-designed glassware commemorating their accomplishments, and all 24 educators will be honored at a special luncheon after the ceremony.

Judging was conducted in March by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators, many of whom have more than 25 years of teaching experience. Applications included information on the nominees’ teaching philosophies, teaching experiences and involvement in their respective communities, as well as letters of recommendation from peers, students, parents, administrators and others.

“On behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, I congratulate these award-winning teachers. They are nothing short of heroes. These are men and women who work tirelessly every day to ensure that our kids have high quality learning experiences,” said Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis. “As Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners, these teachers are innovators and leaders who are moving the needle on student achievement. They are mentors and role models in our profession, and I look forward to partnering with them as we chart a course forward to ensure every Kentucky public school student is equipped with the skills and knowledge they will need to thrive in the 21st century economy.”

The Kentucky Teacher Awards program combines the best elements of what was formerly known as the Ashland Teacher Achievement Awards. Now, as an independent, publicly traded company with its world headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, Valvoline is a proud sponsor of the Teacher Achievement Awards and the Kentucky Teacher of the Year programs.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations Candice! You are in for an amazing experience. We have been there twice and it is awesome. Proud of you and your accomplishments

  2. Mrs Candace Nickels is an amazing teacher and mentor! She has made such a difference in the lives of so many. She has gone above and beyond on a daily basis for years. Thank you Mrs Nickels, your community and school is loud & proud!

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