Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program | WKCTC

Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program

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More than 120 area educators, administrators and staff were honored

More than 400 educators, family, friends and students were on hand to cheer for and recognize the honorees for the 2023 Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship program at West Kentucky Community and Technical College on March 30.

Faculty, administrators, and staff from throughout the Jackson Purchase and southern Illinois area were nominated for awards in five categories: distinguished faculty for grades pre-kindergarten through fifth, distinguished faculty for grades sixth through 12th, distinguished administrators, and the Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Support Staff and Administrative Staff Awards, named for the wife of Dr. Anton Reece, WKCTC President.

The awards and scholarship program was established in August 2017 by Dr. Reece to recognize pre-kindergarten through high school educators, administrators and staff members who work tirelessly each day on behalf of students, parents and the community in WKCTC's service region, which includes Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall, McCracken, Livingston and Lyon counties in Kentucky and Alexander, Hardin, Massac, Pope and Pulaski counties in Illinois.

More than 220 faculty, staff, and administrators received 279 nominations submitted by area students, parents, community members and colleagues. Each nominee was then asked to submit an application. More than 125 applications were submitted and reviewed by a selection committee made up of educators and business and community leaders who selected two finalists and a winner in each of the four categories.

"I've had this job for 30 years," said Murray Elementary School third-grade teacher Kandi Dawson after accepting the top award in the Distinguished Faculty (Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grades) category. "It's something I've had on my heart for longer than that, and I try to convey that to my students every day. They have the power to make their dreams come true if they try hard enough, no matter what their circumstances are at home, they can overcome them, and they can achieve their dreams."

The keynote speaker was Jason Glass, the commissioner and chief learner of the Kentucky Department of Education, who spoke to the audience through a recorded video message.

In conjunction with the awards program, a scholarship for WKCTC students interested in K-12 teaching or educational support majors has been established to encourage and assist the region's future educators. Proceeds from sponsorships of the event will go directly to the Future Educators Scholarship fund. Winners and finalists were:

  • Distinguished Faculty Award (PreK-5th grade)
    • Winner
      • Kandi Dawson, Murray Elementary School third-grade teacher
    • Finalists
      • Stephenie Wheeler, Sedalia Elementary School music and art teacher
      • Jill Dobson, Heath Elementary School first-grade teacher
  • Distinguished Faculty Award (6th - 12th grades)
    • Winner
      • Kara Dowdy, Mayfield High School English teacher and department chair
    • Finalists
      • Amanda LeClere, Hickman County High School chemistry teacher
      • Ashley Fritsche, Calloway County High School business and marketing education teacher
  • Distinguished Administrator Award
    • Winner
      • Miranda Reed, Lyon County Schools director of special education & 504 coordinator
    • Finalists
      • Jodi Butler, Calloway County Middle School principal
      • Sarah Townsend, Fulton Independent Schools director of student services
  • Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Administrative Staff Award
    • Winner
      • Natalie Crawford, Mayfield Independent Schools Youth Service Center coordinator
    • Finalists
      • Kara Connell, Lone Oak Middle School counselor
      • Tasha Seig, Paducah Public Schools psychologist
  • Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Support Staff Award
    • Winner
      • Kari Garner, Livingston Central High School nurse
    • Finalists
      • Mindy Varel, Hendron Lone Oak Elementary School secretary
      • Katherine Tilley, Lone Oak Intermediate School attendance secretary

    Through his President's Awards, Dr. Reece recognized Cynthia Alston, retired Paducah Public Schools educator; Jay Simmons, retired Carlisle County Schools Superintendent and current WKCTC Board of Directors chair; Dr. Casey Allen, Ballard County Superintendent and veteran educator; and Melinda D. Smith, Caldwell County Middle School seventh-grade science teacher who was recently named the 2022-2023 Challenger Learning Center at Paducah's Outstanding Educator.

    The evening's program can be viewed on the WKCTC Facebook page.

    For more information about sponsorship and scholarship opportunities at WKCTC, contact Kyle Fisher at 270-534-3084 or