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Allison Slone named Kentucky Teacher of the Year

Allison Slone HeadshotFor the second consecutive year, an alum from Morehead State University has been named one of the state's best educators.

Allison Slone (Class of 1998, 2001), a special education teacher at Rowan County Senior High School (RCSHS), earned this year's Kentucky Education Association (KEA) Teacher of the Year award.

Slone has taught in the Rowan County school district for 24 years. She is president of the Rowan County Education Association and leader of the Appalachia Educators Alliance.

Slone founded several groups to advocate for teachers and special needs students, including the Facebook group Kentucky Teachers in the Know and KYREADS, which supports dyslexic children and their teachers.

Growing up, Slone wanted to be an educator, but she became serious about working with special needs students in her senior year at Knott County Central High School.

"I fell in love with the teachers and the students," she said. "It changed my plans completely and immediately."

Slone followed in the footsteps of her father Dennis Shepherd (Class of 1968) who attended MSU. She said she loved interacting with real students in the classroom and gaining knowledge about navigating the paperwork that comes with special needs teaching. She also said professors like Professor Emeritus of Education Dr. Wayne Willis "lit a fire under me" when she applied for the Teacher Education Program.

"Dr. Willis didn't hesitate to write me that recommendation, but he stated in the letter that I would be a great candidate but that I needed to apply myself more," Slone recalled. "He knew I had more potential than I was showing at the time. Let me tell you, that did it. I was determined from that point on to never give anyone the opportunity again to question my work ethic, my ability to be an effective student or teacher, or my worth. I valued him as a professor, and now I value him as a friend and colleague."

Slone earned a Bachelor of Arts in Learning and Behavior Disorders (K-12) and Early Elementary (K-4) in 1998 (graduating Magna Cum Laude) and a Master of Arts in Education in Special Education in 2001. She later earned Rank I in Special Education in 2006. She has been a special education teacher with Rowan County schools since graduating from MSU. She is enjoying her current role co-teaching in the science department, despite claiming science was not her favorite subject or strong suit in high school.

"I absolutely love the topics, the discussions, and, of course, the colleagues I am blessed to work with," she said. "My students and I are learning together, and I think that is so important and powerful. Not only can I teach them, I can actually model the learning process for them. I am very real and transparent with my students. If I am not understanding something, I ask questions. This shows the proper way to engage with their teachers and peers."

Since becoming a full-time educator, Slone has made contributions to the state as a member of the Kentucky Department of Education Dyslexia Task Force (2016-17) and as an ex officio member of the Kentucky Board of Education from 2019 to 2022.

This is the second year in a row that a teacher with the Rowan County school district has earned KEA Teacher of the Year honors. Melissa Jenkins (Class of 2003, 2008), a science teacher at RCSHS earned the recognition last year, and Slone does not think the RCSHS/MSU connection to teacher quality is a mere coincidence.

"The back-to-back awards are a testament to the education we both received at MSU and to the level of expectations we have as educators in Rowan County," Slone said. "I truly believe we have some of the best teachers in this entire state, but I also believe that's because the biggest majority of us received our education at Morehead State University."

To learn more about programs in MSU's Ernst & Sara Volgenau College of Education, call 606-783-2162 or email Dr. April Miller, dean, at

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