“I hope you are proud of yourselves and your accomplishments. Today is a day to celebrate you!”
Rhonda Sims, associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, told the 199 teachers from 70 school districts throughout Kentucky honored by Campbellsville University, teaching is an important job, a hard job and a challenging job.
Sims, a 1984 Campbellsville College graduate, was the guest speaker at the 30th Annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Ceremony on May 21 at the Ransdell Chapel on the Campbellsville University campus.
Sims urged teachers to not say “I’m just a teacher” when asked what they do. She told them to say: “‘I inspire,’ ‘I innovate,’ ‘I motivate,’ ‘I engage,’ ‘I challenge’ or ‘I nurture children.’”
She told the honorees they prepare the next generation to lead, think and solve problems.
“You can love the subject matter you are teaching, but without care, concern and compassion for your students, you may be a good teacher, but you will never be a great teacher,” Sims said.
Sims taught before going into administration with the Kentucky Department of Education, and said, “Teaching ignited a fire within me that I still feel when I go to work each day.”
After playing school with dolls when she was a little girl, pretending they were students, she said, “When I got into the classroom with real students, I discovered that teaching was not only my calling, but also my passion,” she said.
“You wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t have that passion for your students and share that love of learning.”
Dr. Shane Garrison, dean of online education, made a special announcement in which Campbellsville University will be offering a $1,000 scholarship to each award recipient to be used toward any online master’s degree program at Campbellsville University for a total of nearly $200,000.
In addition, Campbellsville University will allow this scholarship offer to be shared with others. Award recipients can recommend a fellow teacher, colleague, family member or friend for a $1,000 “Pay It Forward” scholarship. He said principals and superintendents of honored teachers can also recommend someone for the scholarship.
The deadline to apply for the scholarship is July 29, and students must begin their academic coursework either in August or October of this year. More information can be found at online.campbellsville.edu/excellenceinteaching.
Dr. Donna Hedgepath, vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Beverly Ennis, dean of the School of Education and Garrison presented the certificates to the teachers before a luncheon in Winters Dining Hall. Garrison also gave the invocation.
Dr. John Chowning, executive assistant to the president of Campbellsville University for government, community and constituent relations, introduced Sims and also read the names of the honorees.
At this 30th annual program, CU recognized 199 teachers from 70 school districts. A total of 3,390 teachers have been recognized for their teaching excellence throughout the years.
The Excellence in Teaching Awards program is in partnership with Lexington’s CBS-affiliate, WKYT-TV.
The Excellence in Teaching Award recipients from the Harlan County Public School System include: Kenny R. Hughes, Black Mountain Elementary School; Vanessa Renea Bedwell Belcher, Rosspoint Elementary School; and Benjamin Taylor Baker, Harlan County High School.
Hughes is a third-grade teacher at Black Mountain.
He graduated from Evarts High School in 2001. Hughes attended Lincoln Memorial University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 2006. He received his Master of Arts degree in 2011 from LMU and his rank I from Union College in 2013.
He is the son of Delliah Hughes, of Evarts, and Kenneth Hughes.
Belcher is a fourth- through sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Rosspoint where she has been employed since 2005.
She graduated from James A. Cawood High School in 1991. She attended Lincoln Memorial University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1995 and went on to obtain her Master of Arts from Union College in 1998.
Belcher is the daughter of Mary and Andrew Bedwell, of Loyall. She and her husband, Bristol, have two children: Brody Andrew and Jaiden Olivia Belcher.
Baker is a math teacher at Harlan County High School where he has been employed since 2008.
Baker graduated from James A. Cawood High School in 1983. He attended Union College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and secondary education in 1999. He received his Master of Arts in Principalship from Union in 2014.
Baker is the husband of Karen L. Baker and is the father of Brittany Major, Katelyn Card and Taylor Baker. He is the son of Pat Baker, of Cawood
The Excellence in Teaching Award recipients from Harlan Independent School System include: Emily H. Bailey, Harlan Elementary School; Melissa S. Howard, Harlan Middle School; and Berdie Crabtree, Harlan Independent High School.
Bailey is a kindergarten- through fourth-grade teacher at Harlan elementary.
She graduated from James A. Cawood High School in 1974. Bailey attended Lincoln Memorial University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1978. She received her Master of Arts degree from Union College in 1982 and her Rank I in 1989, both from Lincoln Memorial University.
She is the wife of Otis (Rusty) Bailey, and they are the parents of Annie and Joshua Bailey. Her parents are Dora and Hurstel Howard.
Howard is a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Harlan middle where she has been employed since 2007.
She graduated from Bell County High School in 2002. She attended Union College where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 2007 and went on to obtain her Master of Arts degree in 2011.
She is the wife of Christopher Howard and they are the parents of Tavian Bates and Jurnee Kral. Her parents are Kathy and Russell Napier, of Arjay.
Crabtree is a ninth- through 12th-grade chemistry teacher at Harlan high where she has been employed since 2003.
She graduated from Lee High School in Ben Hur, Virginia in 1997. She attended East Tennessee State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 2001. She received her Master of Science degree in education from Union College.
Howard is the wife of Daniel Crabtree, and they are the parents of Leah Crabtree.
She is the daughter of Charles and Carolyn Petty, of Pennington Gap, Virginia.