Graphic reading: 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Eleven Semifinalists: Elementary School, Rebecca Brewer, Kelly Gates and Amber Hays; Middle School, Caitlin Buckley, Nathaniel Green, Danielle Hicks and Mandy Perez; High School, Lauren Niemann, Cathy Conley, Robin Kemp and Amber L. Sergent.

Eleven outstanding teachers from across the state are semifinalists for the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year award, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Valvoline Inc. announced Aug. 1.

The teachers are in the running to be named as elementary, middle and high school Teacher of the Year, one of whom will be named the overall 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. Winners will be announced Sept. 20 at a ceremony in Frankfort.

Semifinalists the for elementary Teacher of the Year are:

  • Rebecca Brewer, Norton Commons Elementary School (Jefferson County)
  • Kelly Gates, Pride Elementary School (Hopkins County)
  • Amber Hays, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center (Henderson County)

The middle school semifinalists are:

  • Caitlin Buckley, Kentucky School for the Deaf
  • Nathaniel Green, Newport High School (Newport Independent Schools)
  • Danielle Hicks, Clinton County Middle School
  • Mandy Perez, Crittenden County Middle School

The high school semifinalists are:

  • Cathy Conley, Knott County Central High School
  • Robin Kemp, Highlands High School (Fort Thomas Independent)
  • Lauren Niemann, Fern Creek High School (Jefferson County)
  • Amber L. Sergent, Woodford County High School

“These award-winning teachers represent more than 40,000 of their colleagues from every school district in Kentucky who continue to serve their students and the teaching profession,” said KDE Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “I congratulate them and thank all Kentucky teachers for their outstanding efforts every day to help prepare Kentucky’s students for successful futures.”

The 11 semifinalists are among 24 educators in Kentucky who were named 2023 Valvoline™ Teacher Achievement Award winners in July. They were chosen based on their scores from the first round of judging, which was conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators. Applications included nominees’ teaching philosophies, teaching experiences, involvement in their respective communities and letters of recommendation.

Interviews with the 11 semifinalists, combined with their application scores, will result in the selection of the 2023 Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year. The finalist with the highest cumulative score will be named the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year and will go on to represent the state in the 2023 National Teacher of the Year competition.

Valvoline will present the 24 recipients of the Teacher Achievement Award with a cash award and certificate during an awards ceremony in Frankfort on Sept. 20. The three Kentucky Teachers of the Year also will receive custom-designed glassware commemorating their accomplishments.

Valvoline, an independent, publicly traded company with its world headquarters in Lexington, is a proud sponsor of the Teacher Achievement Awards and the Kentucky Teacher of the Year program.