Howard named 2022 Kentucky Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winner

Jennifer Howard

Russellville Independent School’s Jennifer Howard was among 24 educators honored recently by being selected as Kentucky Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners for 2022.

Howard has worked at RHS for six years and says it is an absolute honor to have been nominated.

“I’m so excited to be able to represent a school and community that has shown me so much love and support over the years,” said Howard. “While I’m not a native of Russellville or Logan County, it has become a place that has shaped me both personally and professionally. I hope that through this recognition I am able to shine a light on the amazing teachers and students we have in our district.”

The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc. selected 24 outstanding Kentucky educators as recipients of the 2022 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Awards (TAA). These teachers qualify to compete for the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in September.

“We are honored to celebrate some of Kentucky’s most outstanding educators who have exhibited extraordinary resilience during this past year,” said Sam Mitchell, Valvoline’s chief executive officer. “Despite the difficulties they faced during a global pandemic, Kentucky’s teachers have continued to place their focus on educational excellence—and this year’s award winners exemplified this priority. Valvoline is pleased to celebrate and recognize these outstanding teachers.”

The 24 winning teachers are:

Elementary School• Lauren Coffey, W.R. McNeill Elementary (Bowling Green Independent)

• Kandi Dawson, Murray Elementary (Murray Independent)

• Nick Harris, Madison Kindergarten Academy (Madison County)

• Cindy Hundley, Gutermuth Elementary (Jefferson County)

• Miranda Newland, Campbell Elementary (Raceland-Worthington Independent)

• Jamie Reagan, Bell Elementary (Wayne County)

• Ashley Ritchie, Beechwood Elementary (Beechwood Independent)

• Anna Schneider, Pleasant Grove Elementary (Bullitt County)

Middle School• Hallie Booth, Ballyshannon Middle (Boone County)

• Troy Chafin, Woodford County Middle

• Heather Dipasquale, Todd County Middle

• Jason Hand, Stuart Academy (Jefferson County)

• Jo Anne Pennington, Conner Middle (Boone County)

• Morgan Preston, Corbin Middle (Corbin Independent)

• Steffanie Skiles, McKell Middle (Greenup County)

• Judy Trunnell, College View Middle (Daviess County)

High School• Margaret Lynn Brewer, Great Crossing High (Scott County)

• Jodie Carnes, Lynn Camp School (Knox County)

• Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr., Montgomery County High

• Jessica Gels, Rise Academy (Boone County)

• Matthew Haynes, Southern High (Jefferson County)

• Jennifer Howard, Russellville High (Russellville Independent)

• Aaron Klausing, Owensboro High (Owensboro Independent)

• Jennifer Sims, Hart County High

“Teachers across Kentucky have done a tremendous job keeping learning going for our students now more than ever,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “On behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, I congratulate these award-winning educators. Their work is hard, humbling, exhilarating, and challenging. Every day they step up to the plate to make a difference in the lives of our children.”

All 24 teachers will be honored during a virtual event on Sept. 9. At that time, the Kentucky Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year will be announced. From this group of three finalists, the Kentucky Teacher of the Year will be named and will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Valvoline will provide the 24 recipients with cash awards. In addition, the three Kentucky Teachers of the Year will receive custom-designed glassware commemorating their accomplishments.

Judging was conducted in May by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators, many of whom have more than 25 years of teaching experience. Applications included information on the nominees’ teaching philosophies, teaching experiences, and involvement in their respective communities, as well as letters of recommendation from peers, students, parents, administrators, and others.

“From the outside, it’s easy to dismiss teaching as a “calling”, but in reality, it takes a lot of individuals working together with passion, consistency, and dedication to move students forward. I’m constantly inspired by my fellow teachers at RHS, but it’s really the students and the community that make this district special,” Howard said adding, “Working with our students and watching them grow has been an absolute dream come true and if we want to keep moving our communities forward it is critical that we continue investing in our young people. Investing in students means building relationships that go beyond the classroom, understanding what motivates them, recognizing their needs, and finding the best ways to bring those elements together to help develop an individual that is ready to be engaged in the world long after they leave school. Teachers play a large role in helping to develop informed citizens who can advocate for themselves what they believe in and I am just grateful that I get to be a part of that journey.”

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