(FRANKFORT, KY) – At its June 5 meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education presented the eighth annual Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award to Sandy Smock, agriculture teacher and FFA adviser for the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD).
The award recognizes those who exhibit leadership, commitment and service to promote high student achievement through instructional equity and in closing the achievement gap for all children. Smock was nominated by Sarah Warren, graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kentucky.
Warren describes Smock as one of the most admirable, hardworking and passionate educators in Kentucky. Prior to her teaching role with KSD, Smock served on the KSD dormitory staff, where she quickly learned sign language and began developing relationships with students.
Throughout her career, Smock has remained committed to the pursuit of growth and achievement for her students. She has been employed by KSD for 34 years and has become one of the most experienced and longest serving staff members at the school.
Smock has developed an agricultural program at KSD that provides students with real-world knowledge and opportunities. She has created an agriculture curriculum that allows students to grow a community garden, raise chickens and create floral arrangements that are sold in their classroom flower shop.
Warren said that she has seen Smock “motivate her students to overcome their disability and pursue their passions within Kentucky’s workforce.”
The Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award was established to honor the work and dedication of the late long-time Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) employee, who served as an associate commissioner. Grissom was employed by KDE from 1993 to 2010. She previously served as a director at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and as a teacher of special needs and gifted students in Red Springs, N.C.
Past Winners of the Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award
2009 – Johnnie Grissom
2010 – LaRue County School District
2011 – Kathleen Reutman Bryant, executive director of Student/Community Services for the Boone County School District
2012 – Elaine Farris, former Kentucky Department of Education interim commissioner, and then superintendent of the Clark County school district
2013 – No award given
2014 – Dewey Hensley, Jefferson County chief academic officer; and Franklin-Simpson High School principal Tim Schlosser and the Student Support Team at Franklin-Simpson High School
2015 – Taylor County Superintendent Roger Cook
2016 – No award given
2017 – No award given
2018 – Soraya Matthews, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Fayette County Public Schools