Audrey Gilbert, a student at Frankfort High School (Franklin Independent), and Hannah Price, a student at Martha Layne Collins High School (Shelby County), were named National Educators Rising Ambassadors for the 2021-2022 school year. Gilbert and Price will contribute their opinion and experiences in critical national conversations about teaching and learning, lead their peers and spread the word on Educators Rising opportunities.
Thirteen high school students from across the nation and one collegiate student were selected as ambassadors.
Educators Rising Kentucky is the career and technical student organization (CTSO) for middle and high school students interested in the field of education-related careers. Through local chapter or individual membership, Educators Rising Kentucky students have opportunities to participate in projects that assist and recognize educator practices through local, state and national conferences, as well as performance-based competitions.
The ambassador program highlights the importance of student voice to the organization and gives students the opportunity to amplify their voices. Ambassadors contribute their opinions and experiences on social media and assist with the Educators Rising National Conference.
“This year Kentucky is once again blessed with not one, but two National Student Ambassadors,” said John Paise, program consultant for Educators Rising and Teaching and Learning pathways. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Audrey and Hannah and have them offer their student voice at not only the national level, but also here in Kentucky as they will have a central role in planning this year’s Educators Rising state conference.”
Price was inspired by her favorite cousin, Emily Meyers, to explore the education field. A teacher at Strode Station Elementary School (Clark County), Meyers would share stories with Price about the ways she was impacting students’ lives, a sentiment that resonated with Price.
When it came time to join a career and technical education pathway at her school, Price joined the Early Childhood Education pathway and was connected to Educators Rising Kentucky. Now a senior, Price has completed the pathway but is still connected to Educators Rising.
“I thought it was a really cool organization because of how hands-on you get to be,” she said. “Not only do we get to be in a classroom with kids and see what it is like, we get to make lesson plans and actually carry them out.”
Price has helped in kindergarten, 1st- and 2nd-gradeclassrooms. Some of her favorite interactions were with her kindergarten class students, who enjoyed carpet time and singing.
“They always sang a song to say goodbye to each other and sang it in Spanish, because they focused on [both languages],” she said. “They called me teacher and they would sing it to me, too.”
Price is the only returning high school National Ambassador. She wanted to serve a second year because of the connections she made with other chapters and people. She helped with both the state and national competitions. For the national conference, she held a virtual get-together hour and met some students from Alaska.
“You get to make connections with so many people and get to be a part of so many really important discussions,” said Price. “There is a lot of student voice involved in Educators Rising already, but as an ambassador, I feel like it really amplifies our voices and what we think as future educators.”
Price also competes in the state and national competitions, where this past year she competed in “Exploring Education Administration Careers” and shadowed an administrator.
Though her plans are not set in stone, Price is interested in going to college for elementary education or taking a few years to do humanitarian work overseas.
Gilbert knew that she wanted to create a student-driven space for education her freshman year at high school. She helped found Educators Rising at her school and serves as the president.
“I started it freshman year because we didn’t have the educator’s pathway and we were losing the general ‘Let’s be a teacher!’ attitude at our school. I wanted to see people get more interested in education-related issues,” said Gilbert.
Their club meets regularly to discuss relevant education issues on a state and national level. They also focus on information campaigns to help students understand what teachers do within the school and breakdown why entities like school-based decision making councils exist.
This past year, Gilbert and her peers competed in the state competition. She took home first place in the “Job Interview” and “Creative Lecture (TED Talk)” categories.
Educators Rising is not connected to a career pathway at Frankfort High School. Students who join the organization do so because of a genuine interest in the education field. Gilbert wanted to be a National Ambassador to give voice to those students.
“I felt we were disconnected with any other level of Educators Rising. I wanted to put my foot in the water and get a better understanding of what is going on, but also provide my input at the national level for things they should be doing,” she said. “Our club does function differently than others do, and I wanted to put that model out there. but also take back any information and resources.”
Her Educators Rising sponsor, Arlene Crabtree, helped Gilbert realize she wanted to go into the education field. Crabtree used to teach in the education pathway when it was offered.
“She takes on any role that they give her at our school. She helps students with homework for other classes; she stays late frequently,” Gilbert said. “She’s willing to anything and everything and help out as much as she can.”
Gilbert plans to pursue elementary education in college and eventually transition to education policy. She currently interns with Director of Education Policy Meredith Brewer at the Kentucky Department of Education, where she researches and analyzes education policy.