Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program | WKCTC

Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program

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Education is for improving the lives of others and for
leaving your community and world better than you found it.
  - Marian Wright Edelman

More than 300 educators, family, friends, and students were on hand March 7 at West Kentucky Community and Technical College to cheer and recognize more than 40 honorees in the 2019 Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program.

four educator winners with WKCTC president   Rachel Dodson

Rachel Dodson, a second grade teacher at Heath Elementary School, described herself as “not a crier or ever at a loss for words,” but she found herself fighting back tears and without the words to express herself for a new minutes after she received the 2019 Distinguished Faculty (Pre-K – 5th grade) Award.

Dodson was one of 44 individuals honored during the red-carpet event at WKCTC’s Clemens Fine Arts Theatre March 7, 2019. She said she was blessed to be able to teach in the same school that she attended years before.  “I have been living my dream teaching at MY school for 24 years and there is no place else I would rather teach,” Dodson said upon receiving the top award in her category.

Deserving faculty and staff from throughout the Jackson Purchase were nominated for awards in four categories: distinguished faculty for grades pre-kindergarten through fifth, distinguished faculty for grades sixth through 12th, distinguished administrators, and the Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Staff Award, named for the wife of WKCTC President Anton Reece.

"Tonight, we honor the educators who go above and beyond their daily responsibilities and play a tremendous role in the shaping of education in our region," said co-emcee Lee Emmons, WKCTC's vice president of institutional advancement. "We honor the vital role all our educators, administrators, staff, and supporters play in education."

The awards and scholarship program was established in August 2017 to recognize pre-kindergarten through high school educators, administrators and staff members who have gone beyond their daily responsibilities and have worked tirelessly 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 100 faculty, staff, and administrators were nominated by students, parents, community members, and colleagues. Each nominee was then asked to submit an application. Forty-four applications were then reviewed by a selection committee made up of educators, business and community leaders who selected two finalists and a winner in each of four categories.

In conjunction with the awards program, a scholarship for WKCTC students interested in K-12 teaching or educational support majors was established to encourage and assist the region's future educators. Area businesses and organizations have donated to establish the scholarship.

Sheila Smith-Anderson, executive director of leadership development for the St. Louis Public School Board of Education, called the audience of teachers, administrators and staff “the difference makers” in their communities. “You make magic. Teacher magic. You are the keepers of the community, by creating a sense of belonging and self-worth,” Smith-Anderson said. “Teaching tolerance and acceptance of people and differences. You are the keeper of the communities.”

During WKCTC’s second annual Regional Educators Award and Scholarship Program March 7, WKCTC President Anton Reece recognized three individuals with a special President’s award and plaque in recognition of excellence in leadership and service to education. Dr. Reece recognized Julie Sheffer of Clark Elementary School as the 2018-2019 Challenger Learning Center at Paducah Outstanding Educator.  He also gave the President’s Award to Terry Sullivan, West Kentucky GEAR UP director, and Art Davis, principal of Paducah Tilghman High School.

Art Davis was surprised as Dr. Reece called his name to receive the President’s Award. He told the audience that he understood now why Paducah Schools Superintendent Don Shively said he had to be at the event.  “I’m not good when it comes to accolades and awards. I’m awkward when it comes to that.” Davis said from the Clemens Fine Arts Theatre stage. “I thank you for allowing me to serve you for 27 years – 34 (years) in all. I did not expect this.”

Dr. Reece said Davis has served as principal of Paducah Tilghman High School since 2003 and began as a teacher in 1992. “Mr. Davis has the longest tenure of a principal at Paducah Tilghman and was chosen as the 2013 Kentucky Association of Secondary School Principals’ Principal of the Year,” Reece said. “Mr. Davis, we honor your dedication and commitment to helping students find success. Thank you for your incredible service in K-12 education.”

2019 honorees

2019 Winners and finalists were:

Amy S. Carrico, Community Christian Academy principal


Jill H. Boone, Marshall County High School guidance counselor

Tamra Parker, Fulton County Schools special education director

Rachel S. Dodson, Heath Elementary School 2nd grade teacher

Carol A. Withrow, Morgan Elementary School teacher and literacy coach
Penny L. Hite, Paducah Head Start/preschool teacher

Stephanie E. Hinz,
McCracken County High School Mathematics teacher

Hope K. Foster, Murray Middle School 7th grade English language arts teacher
Lisa H. Skipworth, McCracken County High School dual credit college algebra teacher

Sidonie “Sid” E. Hancock, Paducah Tilghman High School senior class college and scholarship counselor    

Kelly R. Wray, Ballard County Schools family resource and youth services center director
Stacy A. Thomas, McCracken County High School youth service center director

Interested in contributing to the scholarship fund or serving as a sponsor for the 2019 Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program? Contacting Lee Emmons at or 270-534-3084. Event sponsors will be featured in program publications.

The 2020 Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program will be held March 5, 2020 in the Clemens Fine Arts Theatre.