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NKY teachers Ashley Ritchie, Hallie Booth named Elementary, Middle School Teachers of the Year

First of three parts

Northern Kentucky teachers Ashley Ritchie of Beechwood Elementary and Hallie Booth of Ballyshannon Middle School have been named the 2022 Elementary and Middle School Teachers of the Year, respectively, by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Ashley Ritchie, a 2nd-grade teacher at Beechwood Elementary was named Kentucky’s 2022 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. (Submitted photo from Kentucky Teacher)

They are two of three winners of the Teacher of the Year Awards. Montgomery County High School English and French teacher Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. received the Teacher of the Year Honor.

KDE and Valvoline, co-sponsors of the Kentucky Teacher of the Year Awards, made the announcements in a virtual ceremony on Thursday in Lexington.

This was the second Kentucky Teacher of the Year announcement to be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Semifinalists for the award joined the live broadcast online.

Ritchie is a second-grade teacher at Beechwood Elementary School in Ft. Mitchell. To engage her students in the learning process, Ritchie uses room transformations, which involves transforming her classroom into something new and different that centers on the standards students are learning.

“I am so honored to be here and to represent elementary teachers in Kentucky, so thank you so much for this chance,” Ritchie said.

Booth, an 8th-grade math teacher at Ballyshannon Middle School, focuses on exploration in her classroom and giving students real-world experiences.

Hallie Booth, an 8th-grade science at Ballyshannon Middle School, was named Kentucky’s 2022 Middle School Teacher of the Year. (Submitted photo from Kentucky Teacher)

“I appreciate the honor,” said Booth. “It’s a combination of everyone that has been a part of my classrooms and been a part of my administration and teaching colleagues. I’m so proud to represent the other middle school teachers.”

Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. teaches English and French at Montgomery County High School.

He said the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year award serves as a testament to all the teachers who supported him throughout his education journey. Carver also was named the Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year.

“The best thing about teaching is you get lost in the process. It’s all about what the students do,” said Carver during the virtual ceremony. “Thank you to all of my students who helped me get here.”

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason Glass thanked the winners and all of the Commonwealth’s teachers for devoting their lives to educating students.

“Our most important assets in education are the teachers who bring their classrooms alive with learning,” he said. “No matter what subject area or grade level they teach, these teachers challenge, lead and set good examples for the children in their care.”

The 2022 Teacher of the Year will receive a $10,000 cash award, while the Middle and Elementary School Teachers of the Year each will get $3,000. The remaining 21 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award recipients each get $500.

Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr., an English and French teacher from Montgomery County, was surprised Sept. 9 after being named the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year during a virtual ceremony. (Photo by Toni Konz Tatman, Kentucky Teacher)

Carver also will receive the opportunity to serve a semester-long sabbatical with KDE and will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

All three of the Teacher of the Year recipients will receive a glass statuette from Valvoline.

The ceremony concluded with remarks from Gov. Beshear, who praised all the extra work teachers have done due to COVID-19.

Beshear congratulated Carver, calling him “the man of many names,” and thanked him for his inspiring work, along with Booth and Ritchie.

“We are here celebrating those exceptional educators, but I want to make sure every teacher across the Commonwealth knows how much you are valued,” said Beshear.

“Few have been hit harder or been more directly impacted more than you, our educators. We entrust you with our most precious gifts – our children. As the dad of two middle school children, I can’t thank you enough for how much you invest in those who we love more than anybody else in the world.”

Beshear said that the state owes educators a “deep debt of gratitude” for their ability to be innovative and flexible during the pandemic.

The Selection Process

Four elementary, three middle school and three high school teachers were announced Aug. 2 as semifinalists for Teacher of the Year out of more than 500 nominations received by KDE.

The semifinalists were chosen by a panel of veteran educators based on applications that included nominees’ teaching philosophies, experience and community involvement, along with letters of recommendation.

Each semifinalist had an interview and a classroom lesson review. The one with the highest cumulative score from the entire process was chosen as Teacher of the Year.

This is the 21st year Valvoline, which is headquartered in Lexington, has partnered with KDE to honor Kentucky educators.

“Teachers, we appreciate your efforts. Each of you should feel pride in knowing that you not only excel in your profession in your district but also rank among Kentucky’s best educators,” said Valvoline CEO Sam Mitchell. “We applaud you and we recognize the many sacrifices you and your family members have made throughout your years as an educator.”

This story originally appeared at Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education

Tomorrow: Meet Beechwood Elementary School Teacher of the Year Ashley Ritchie.

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