Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program
Education is for improving the lives of others and for
leaving your community and world better than you found it.
- Marian Wright Edelman
A worldwide pandemic and the restrictions that followed made having an in-person Regional
Educators Awards and Scholarship Program at West Kentucky Community and Technical
College out of the question this year. The college was still able to celebrate this
area’s elementary and secondary educators, administrators and staff with a virtual
program that premiered on WKCTC’s Facebook page and YouTube channel Thursday, March
“As an educator, I know how stressful the last year has been. This pandemic has forced us all to adapt and to make sacrifices, and I am proud to say that our schools have met this challenge with courage and compassion,” said Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman in a recorded message in the program. “Each day you have faced uncertainty and been asked to adapt on the fly. This is no easy task, but you have risen to it at every turn. And the educators we are honoring today in particular have taken an even greater step in building a world class education system for our kids.”
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.
“The COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from being able to recognize our regional educators and administrators with an in-person ceremony,” said Dr. Reece. “We did not want to miss the opportunity to honor our elementary and secondary partners and their service and dedication to students and their families in our region.”
The awards 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. The recognition is for individuals 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.
Students, parents, community members, and colleagues nominated more than 80 faculty, staff and administrators. Each nominee was then asked to submit an application. A selection committee made up of educators and business and community leaders then reviewed the fifty-nine submitted applications.
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. Since the program’s inception, sponsors and other contributors
have given $30,757 for the Regional Educators Program Future Educators Scholarship.
Six students have received the scholarship thus far.
Lt. Gov. Coleman praised all educators in the Commonwealth who have had to adapt and make sacrifices in order to meet the challenges of 2020.
“The fact that there are nearly 60 individuals being recognized (in the awards program) is indicative of the incredible work being done in western Kentucky and all across the Commonwealth,” Coleman said. “It shows that Kentucky isn’t going to be held back by this virus; it shows that Kentucky is only moving forward towards an education system that works for every single family.”
Adding to her recorded message to the nominees, Coleman said, “It says a lot about each of you individually. You are fantastic at what you do for our kids. And it says a lot about you as a group. That our Commonwealth contains such talent, compassion and leadership. Not only are you exceptional for proving your dedication to our children during a global health pandemic, but you are also part of a movement strengthening our schools for generations to come.”
During the program, Dr. Reece also recognized four individuals with a special award to recognize their excellence in leadership and service to education. The President’s Awards went to Mike Miller,Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center principal; Michael Wood, McCracken County Agriculture Program director; Steven Elder, WAVE River Counties Agriculture consultant; and Olivia Burr, a retired life-long educator, who served as the first Family Resource Center Coordinator in Paducah/McCracken County.
Registration for summer and fall classes is underway with the college excited to offer more face-to-face classes in fall 2021 along with our flexible hybrid and online courses. For more information, visit west.kentucky.kctcs.edu or call 270-534-3435.
2021 Winners and finalists were:
Beverly Claybrooks, Fulton County Elementary School second grade teacher
Brittany Riley, Morgan Elementary School technology resource teacher
Renda D. Childress, Reidland Elementary School Read to Achieve teacher
Danette Humphrey, Paducah Middle School instructional coach/GTC teacher
Stephanie Barker Ford, Reidland Middle School eighth grade language arts teacher
Greta Ramage, Livingston Central High School business and marketing teacher
Sondra Gibbs, Fulton County Elementary School principal
Julie Workman Jackson, Fulton County Schools director of operations
Denise Ann Whitaker, Murray Elementary School principal
Marianna L. Romero, Reidland Elementary School Family Resource
Jim Baurer, Murray Independent School District director of maintenance
Charles W. Ligon, Paducah Tilghman High School head custodial supervisor
Interested in contributing to the scholarship fund or serving as a sponsor for the 2022 Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program? Contacting Lee Emmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-534-3084. Event sponsors are featured in program publications.
The 2021 Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program can be viewed online.