- The award recognizes a KDE employee for significant service to Kentucky’s public schools and for providing inspiration for education. The KDE staff submits nominations for the award.
- Hylton works closely with the Kentucky School for the Deaf and the Kentucky School for the Blind.
By Jim Gaines
Associate Commissioner Gretta Hylton is the 2020 winner of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Kevin M. Noland/MaryAnn Miller Award.
As associate commissioner of the KDE Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL), Hylton works to create policies and procedures, make sure federal and state mandates are met, collaborates with community partners and families, and provides for local education agencies (LEAs) and families.
The award was announced at the Kentucky Board of Education’s Dec. 2 virtual meeting.
“Gretta makes decisions every day that affect the lives of exceptional children and their families,” her nomination form said. “Gretta carries a heavy burden, often straddling the divide between what is required by the federal government and what is simply best for students, because both are important.”
Hylton worked with the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) and the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) to provide virtual learning for their students when the schools – which usually operate in boarding-school fashion – closed their campuses in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
She also organized a personal hygiene item drive in December 2019 to benefit KSB and KSD students, the nominating form said.
As disruption from COVID-19 continues, Hylton continues to seek partners to support and advise parents of children on virtual learning.
“She understands that a mistake on the part of KDE could have a fiscal cost to LEAs across the state because of federal mandates that are not always relaxed due to a state of emergency,” the nomination said. “She balances the federal mandates with the needs of LEAs and families very well, understanding that children are first, just that – children – and we need to do what is best for them.”
The award, established in 2009, recognizes a KDE employee for significant service to Kentucky’s public schools and for providing inspiration for education. The KDE staff submits nominations for the award.
The award is named for Noland, who served as KDE’s deputy commissioner and general counsel and served as interim commissioner on four occasions, and Miller, who served KDE as a program consultant, staff assistant, policy adviser, director of KBE and chief of staff. Miller won the award, previously known as the Kevin M. Noland Award, in 2013. The award was established in 2013 to recognize Noland’s 18 years of service; KBE added Miller’s name to the award in 2017 to honor her 30 years of service to KDE.
A selection committee made up of a cross-section of KDE employees reviewed and rated this year’s nominations based on the following criteria:
- An individual who focuses on the mission for student proficiency:
- An individual who is an excellent ambassador for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Education and Kentucky’s schools;
- An individual who is knowledgeable and productive; and
- An individual who has made an impact in one of the following areas: school districts, community partners, parents and/or co-workers through leadership, customer service, teamwork and community service.
Previous Kevin M. Noland/Mary Ann Miller Award winners are:
- 2019 – Kiley Whitaker, assistant director of the Division of Technical Schools and Continuous Improvement
- 2018 – Amanda Ellis, chief academic office and deputy commissioner
- 2017 – Jonathon Bogar, welding instructor, Belfry Area Technology Center
- 2016 – Laura Arnold, associate commissioner, Office of Career and Technical Education
- 2015 – No award presented
- 2014 – Rhonda Sims, director, Division of Assessment Support and Research
- 2013 – Mary Ann Miller, policy adviser for the commissioner and the Kentucky Board of Education
- 2012 – Lisa Gross, director, Division of Communications
- 2011 – No award presented
- 2010 – Sally Sugg, director, Division of District 180
- 2009 – Linda Holbrook, state Reading First coordinator