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MSU alumnus Willie Carver named Kentucky Teacher of the Year

Willie Carver PictureWillie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. (Class of 2006, 2009), French and English teacher at Montgomery County High School and a dual-credit French and English instructor through MSU's Eagle Scholars program, was recently awarded one of the state's highest honors in his field after being named the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.  

"It is hard to describe receiving this honor but mostly, it doesn't feel real," Carver said. "I see behind the scenes just how hard so many teachers work, how brilliant they are, and how much they care, so I am above all humbled."   

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Valvoline co-sponsored the award. Carver's selection was announced in a virtual ceremony on Sept. 9 in Lexington.  

The 2022 Teacher of the Year will receive a $10,000 cash award. Middle and Elementary School Teachers of the Year were each awarded $3,000 while the remaining 21 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award recipients each received $500. Carver will also receive the opportunity to serve a semester-long sabbatical with KDE and represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.  

Carver 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 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. He 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.   

"I feel like I am being lifted up by every teacher I ever had; I am thankful on a soul level to them for believing in me," he said.   

Carver said he used to pretend that he was a teacher as a kid. Now, after being named one of the Bluegrass State's best educators, he wants to put his all into helping students live up to their potential.  

"I don't know why I was considered. All that I know is that my work is not work; it is my passion and my fun. I love thinking about school, being at school, and above all, helping students believe in themselves," he said. "The most fulfilling part of this job is seeing what these kids grow up to become; seeing them reach for more than they thought they could get, seeing them fail at it, seeing them dust themselves off and seeing them try again."  

In addition to Carver being named Teacher of the Year, Miranda Newland (Class of 2015, 2019), an interdisciplinary early childhood educator at Campbell Preschool in the Raceland-Worthington Independent School District, was a 2022 Teacher of the Year semifinalist and a nominee for Elementary Teacher of the Year. She earned 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) from MSU.  

For more information about programs in the Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education, call 606-783-2162, email College of Education Dean Dr. April Miller at, or visit