A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Campbellsville University’s Excellence in Teaching Ceremony includes Kenton, Gallatin teachers

By Joan C. McKinney
Cambellsville University

“Children still need teachers who care about them and believe in them … create environments where they feel safe and happy. They still need teachers who are patient and work hard to help them learn and grow. It’s as simple as that, not always easy, but always worth the effort. Always.” – the late Suzanne Dennis, who was 64 at her death.

Laura Beth Hayes, the daughter of Dennis, read her mother’s writing about teachers at Campbellsville University’s 33rd annual Excellence in Teaching Award Program.

Laura Beth Hayes, a 2003 and 2006 graduate of Campbellsville University, addresses the teachers at the 33rd Excellence in Teaching Award Ceremony. (CU Photo by Joshua Williams)

Hayes, who has taught 16 years and is a former Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, spoke before 197 teachers who were honored from 68 school districts in Kentucky.

A total of 3,946 teachers have been honored since the program began in 1987.

Hayes, a teacher at Morningside Elementary School in the Elizabethtown Independent School District, has also taught in the Hardin County School District. She was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award early in her career.

Hayes challenged the teachers at the ceremony to “find joy in the small moments. Embrace the mundane and the daily challenges that taunt us with the false notion that what we do isn’t important enough or doesn’t matter.

“Find confidence in knowing that wiping noses, sharpening pencils, grading stacks of tests and engaging in the antics of teenagers is part of the work – and a meaningful part of the work.”

She urged the teachers to “love your students – and your colleagues – in the simplest yet most sincere ways. For these are the moments that will define our careers. These are the memories our students will recall when they see us in the grocery store or look at their old yearbooks.

“Thank you for the big love you show in the smallest of ways every single time you start the day. Your honor today is a privilege and a moment I hope you will always treasure.

“But beyond any accolades of today, I hope your experience has been a wonderful reminder that school is not something to package or define. We cannot step back on the mount and risk losing sight of perspective — or our students. Let’s open our eyes to the ‘so much more’ of education. My heart, and the hearts of your students, will continue to grow for years to come — because of you.”

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program is in partnership with Lexington’s CBS-affiliate, WKYT-TV.

NKY recipients with their superintendent listed first were:

• Kenton County School System, Superintendent Dr. Henry Webb – Melody Childers, Piner Elementary School; and Lori Dennler, Dixie Heights High School;

• Gallatin County School System, Superintendent Larry Hammond – Debbie DeLauche, Gallatin County Upper Elementary School; Emily Lowe, Gallatin County Middle School; and Michelle Schultz, Gallatin County High School.

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