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MSU grad Clark named 2018 Kentucky Teacher of the Year

TOY-E.jpgMorehead State University alumna Kellie Clark, a 16-year veteran teacher at Randall K. Cooper High School in Boone County, has been named the 2018 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

Valvoline, Inc. and the Kentucky Department of Education made the announcement at a ceremony held at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton; Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Director Mardi Montgomery; Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt and Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, were on hand to make the presentation.

Belinda Raye was named the 2018 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Jennifer Meo-Sexton was named the 2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year.

The three joined 21 other teachers from across the state honored with 2018 Valvoline, Inc. Teacher Achievement Awards.

Clark, a 1998 graduate, has spent her career teaching choral music and AP music theory at Cooper High. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Morehead State University and a master’s degree at Ohio’s Miami University in Oxford.

She serves as the creative and performing arts team leader for her school and has coached numerous students for participation in honors/all-state choirs, the Governor’s School for the Arts, and for Overture awards. She recently received a C3 Outstanding Educator Award. Her professional affiliations include the Kentucky Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education and the American Choral Directors Association.

“Teachers are our most important asset and these teachers represent the best in the state,” said Pruitt. “These teachers have shown again and again they are committed to doing whatever it takes to ignite the passion, potential and possibility in each and every one of their students. They also serve as invaluable partners and leaders in Kentucky education, often going outside of their classrooms to share their insights and expertise as we formulate ways to take all of our students to higher levels of learning.”

Clark received $10,000 and a commemorative crystal-glass bowl. In addition, the Kentucky Department of Education will provide a sabbatical or suitable alternative for Clark, who also will represent the state in the 2018 National Teacher of the Year competition.

The remaining 21 winners each received $500 cash awards. All 24 teachers received framed certificates and were recognized at a luncheon following the ceremony.

“It is my pleasure to once again recognize the 24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners and the Kentucky Teachers of the Year. Having the opportunity to recognize and support outstanding teachers that bring energy, passion and dedication to the classroom highlights our commitment to community, especially in preparing students to excel in a global society,” said Mitchell.

Valvoline and the Kentucky Department of Education co-sponsor the Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards. Applications for the program were distributed across the state, and the first tier of the selection process was completed in March, with 24 teachers selected as 2018 Valvoline Inc. Teacher Achievement Award winners.

The nine top scorers – three each from the elementary, middle and high school levels – were selected, and teams of educators visited their classrooms to view them at work and to conduct personal interviews. From those nine, three were selected as 2018 Kentucky Teachers of the Year. The selection of the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year was based on the compilation of scores from all phases of the judging.

The Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards program combines the best elements of what was formerly known as the Ashland Teacher Achievement Awards. Valvoline separated from Ashland to become a publicly traded company headquartered in Lexington and is now sponsoring the Teacher Achievement Awards and the Kentucky Teacher of the Year programs.

This year marks the 17th year the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland/Valvoline have partnered to honor Kentucky educators. Since 1988, the program has awarded more than $800,000 to 548 teachers in grades K to 12.

Pictured above, from left: Belinda Raye Furman, the 2018 Kentucky Elementary School Teacher of the Year; MSU alumnus Kellie Clark, the 2018 Kentucky Teacher of the Year from Randall K. Cooper High School (Boone County); Jennifer Meo-Sexton, the 2018 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year; and Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt at the Kentucky Teacher of the Year Ceremony in the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort. (Photo by Bobby Ellis)