PADUCAH, KY (03/05/2018) The winners of West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program will be announced during a red-carpet celebration March 15 in WKCTC's Clemens Fine Arts Theatre.
The program, which begins at 5 p.m., will include local musical performers Calvin Cole, Jr., and Amanda Wilson, and feature nationally known speaker and trainer Dr. Lucian Yates III, dean of graduate and professional studies at Tennessee State University. Dr. Yates, the manager of the Yates Group, has served in a variety of education roles in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Upon becoming WKCTC president in 2016, Dr. Anton Reece said he wanted to focus on two initiatives - expanding the college's regional access and developing a program to recognize the region's K-12 educators.
While Dr. Reece's career has been in postsecondary education, his wife, Cornelia, has spent more than 25 years working in K-12 positions in Kentucky and Tennessee. "Knowing first-hand from her the challenges that our teachers face, we wanted to start an annual regional, recognition of teachers, faculty, staff, and superintendents - all those involved in doing the incredible work that they do on a daily basis educating our children," Dr. Reece said.
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 in Illinois.
More than 40 faculty, staff and administrators were nominated by students, parents, community members, and colleagues. Each nominee was then asked to submit an application. Twenty-eight 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.
A 2017 Education Week analysis of federal data found that all 50 states and most territories reported experiencing statewide shortages in one teaching area or another for either the 2016-17 school year, the current one, or both. Besides special education and foreign languages, frequent problem areas included math, computer science, science, English/language arts, and English-as-a-second-language instruction.
"We need more master teachers, with schools facing retirements and everything else," Reece said. "We want to close the gap, so we need some young energetic, engaged, master teachers entering into the system as well."
In conjunction with the awards program, a scholarship for WKCTC students interested in K-12 teaching, early childhood education, or educational support majors has been established to encourage and assist the region's future educators, said Lee Emmons, executive director of the Paducah Junior College, Inc., the foundation for WKCTC.
"Several businesses have already stepped up to join this important initiative by serving as 2018 program sponsors. At this time, corporate partners include Community Financial Services Bank as a Gold Level partner; Paducah Junior College (PJC) foundation as a Silver Level partner; and CSI, Harper Industries, and Travis School Equipment as Bronze Level partners. We so appreciate these organizations that have taken the lead in honoring outstanding current educators and providing tangible assistance to future educators by making the Regional Educators Scholarship fund possible," Emmons said.
"All organizations and individuals are invited to contribute to the scholarship fund. Contributions can be made in honor of nominees or others, which is truly a wonderful tribute to further recognize these hard-working individuals," she added.
The first scholarship will be awarded in the fall.
The 2018 nominees are: (listed alphabetically by last name in each award category)
Distinguished Faculty (Pre-K-5th) Award
Distinguished Faculty (6th-12th) Award
Distinguished Administrator Award
Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Staff Award
For more information or to donate to the scholarship program, contact Lee Emmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. The March 15 awards program is opened to the public. RSVPs are being accepted through March 9 at Janett.email@example.com or at https://www.formstack.com/forms/?2977799-2ndYNqkjU2