Kevin Dailey, a middle school social studies teacher at Ballyshannon Middle School in Boone County, has been named the 2024 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.
“I am really blessed and honored to be able to represent 40,000 plus teachers in Kentucky,” Dailey said. “This day is about all of our kids and all of our families. This day is about Kentucky.”
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Valvoline, co-sponsors of the award, announced Dailey’s selection at an in-person ceremony on Sept. 13 at the Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda. Dailey also was named the 2024 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year. Russell County Schools’ Donnie Wilkerson was named the Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and Jefferson County Public Schools’ Kumar Rashad was named High School Teacher of the Year.
In attendance at the ceremony were Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, members of the Kentucky Board of Education and representatives from Valvoline.
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass thanked Dailey, Rashad and Wilkerson and all of the Commonwealth’s teachers for devoting their lives to educating students. He said they continue to raise the bar.
“Today’s ceremony recognizes and celebrates the most important profession there is, teaching. These award-winning educators represent more than 40,000 of their colleagues across our state who give of themselves every day to help students,” Glass said.
Laura Pentova, chief legal officer at Valvoline Global, thanked the winning teachers for their work.
“Valvoline Global is proud to be here today, alongside Valvoline Inc., to recognize and celebrate the incredible contributions that teachers across Kentucky are making in the lives of our children and families,” she said.
“Our global headquarters are located in Lexington, so Kentucky is a very special place for us. We know that teachers shape lives, not just academically, but they also shape our future citizens who will lead our communities, our businesses, our civic organizations and our governments.”
The ceremony also included remarks from Lt. Gov. Coleman, who praised Dailey and all of Kentucky’s teachers.
“Regularly, I meet with students interested in pursuing a career in education,” Coleman said. “I tell them that I cannot promise you it will be free from heartache and worry. But I can promise you that you will feel fulfilled and know that you make a difference in your community. Thank you all for making a profound difference in your community. You are the best of Team Kentucky.”
Dailey has taught in Boone County Schools since 2019 and has been in education for the past 10 years.
As a child, Dailey never thought he would become a teacher. But he took a computer repair class his sophomore year of high school with a teacher named Linda Foxx, who changed his view on education and life.
“For the first time in my life, the person in the front of the room didn’t see me through my parents’ successes and failures, or as a ‘poor kid from Covington.’ Instead, Mrs. Foxx saw me as me,” Dailey said.
Now, as the 2024 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Dailey hopes to ensure students across the Commonwealth have access to teachers who are as supportive of them as Foxx was of him.
“I tell my students from day one, I already love you,” Dailey said. “I don’t know you yet, but I love you. I think you’re awesome and you’re going to do great things.”
2024 Elementary School Teacher of the Year Donnie Wilkerson
The 2024 Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Donnie Wilkerson, is a 5th-grade social studies teacher at Jamestown Elementary School in Russell County. He has taught there for the entire 19 years he has been an educator
Wilkerson engages his students inside and outside the classroom. He came up with an activity called “Kentucky Adventures,” where he takes students on trips around the state at his own expense.
Kentucky Adventures take place on Saturdays and are not official school trips. Wilkerson and another adult chaperone take five students on an all-day adventure, providing them with experiences they might not otherwise get, exploring the diverse history and culture of Kentucky.
“Everywhere I go in the community I encounter former students who recount stories of their own ‘Kentucky Adventures’ and memories of 5th grade with such fondness that I’m often overwhelmed,” Wilkerson said.
2024 High School Teacher of the Year Kumar Rashad
Kumar Rashad, the 2024 High School Teacher of the Year, is a mathematics teacher at Breckinridge Metropolitan High School in Jefferson County.
As an alternative school, many of Breckinridge Metropolitan’s students have been involved with the criminal justice system. Rashad shows his students he cares and tries to steer them back on track for success.
“I’m really happy to be considered for this, teachers don’t brag about ourselves,” said Rashad. “We try to remain humble and honestly, if my friend didn’t nominate me, I would not have been here.”
The 2024 Teacher of the Year will receive a $10,000 cash award, while the Elementary and High School Teachers of the Year each will get $2,750. All three winners received a custom-designed glass award commemorating the honor.
As the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Dailey also will receive an opportunity to serve a semester-long sabbatical with KDE and will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
The remaining 19 Teacher Achievement Award recipients each will receive $500.
Nominations for the 2025 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award will open on Nov. 1.
MORE INFO …
- 2024 Kentucky Elementary School Teacher of the Year Donnie Wilkerson helps students make lifelong memories
- 2024 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year Kevin Dailey wants his students to feel supported, included
- 2024 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year Kumar Rashad gives students who have been in the criminal justice system a chance at success