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MSU Alumni Carver and Newland named semifinalists for Kentucky Teacher of the Year

Willie Carver PictureTwo Morehead State University alumni were recently named among the 10 semifinalists for the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award. Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. (Class of 2006, 2009) is a semifinalist in the high school category and Miranda Newland (Class of 2015, 2019) is a nominee for Elementary Teacher of the Year.  

Carver is the French and English teacher at Montgomery County High School and a dual-credit French and English instructor through MSU’s Eagle Scholars program. He came to MSU from Printer in Floyd County, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2006, and completed the Master of Arts in Teaching program in English and French in 2009. Carver also earned a Rank 1 in French Linguistics from the University of Georgia in 2008 and completed post-graduate work in English at MSU in 2010. Carver previously served as an instructor of French at the University of Georgia from 2007 to 2009 and taught for two years at Raceland-Worthington Independent High School and Montgomery County High School and worked as a teacher and behavior interventionist in Burlington, Vermont.  

Carver said he encountered many professors at MSU that made him feel worthwhile, seen, prepared and capable of achieving his dreams. He wants to have the same impact on his students.  

"When a student says, 'I didn't know I could' or 'I never thought I could,' then I know I have done what I am here to do," he said.  

Miranda Newland PictureMiranda Newland is in her second year as an interdisciplinary early childhood educator at Campbell Preschool in the Raceland-Worthington Independent School District. She worked for five years as a moderate and severe disabilities teacher at McKell Elementary in the Greenup County School District. The Raceland native felt at home when she came to MSU, and she was awarded scholarships on her way to earning both a Bachelor of Arts in General Education (K-5) and Special Education Moderate and Severe Disabilities (K-12) and a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (Birth-5).  

“I truly believe that MSU developed me holistically. They helped me recognize my true passion and learn the most effective teaching practices,” Newland said. “MSU’s teaching programs are unmatched in my opinion. You cannot beat the smaller class sizes, the brilliant professors, or the overall rigor of the program itself.” 

Even though Newland was shocked when she was initially nominated (she still doesn't know who wrote the letter recommending her for Teacher of the Year), Newland was surprised again after she decided to apply and found out she was a semifinalist.  

"There are so many educators that are as equally or even more so deserving than myself of such an honor. I honestly completed the application out of respect for whoever took the time to nominate me. When I received the email that I had made it to the top 24, I was in complete disbelief. When they made additional cuts and I made it to the top 10, I cried. I cried because I am so thankful. I am thankful that someone thought so much of me to give me this chance," Newland said. "Now, all I want to do is make my tiny town and everyone else who has ever invested in me proud. I feel differently now than I did in the beginning. In the beginning, I was just thankful. Now that I've made it this far, I see how instrumental it could be to be named Kentucky Teacher of the Year. I would have the wonderful opportunity to advocate for my most passionate platforms in education-early childhood and special education."  

To learn more about MSU's Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education and its programs, call 606-783-2162 or visit