Fourth-year educator named Kentucky Teacher of the Year

A relative newcomer to the profession has been named Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

Erin Elizabeth Ball, a language arts teacher at Georgetown Middle School in Scott County, won the award.  She has four years of teaching experience in Scott County Schools.

Melanie Callahan, a fourth-grade teacher at London Elementary in Laurel County, was named the 2020 Elementary School Teacher of the Year.  Matthew Kaufmann, an English teacher at Marion C. Moore School in Jefferson County, is the 2020 High School Teacher of the Year.

The three top winners joined 21 other teachers from across the state honored with 2020 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Awards.

“These teachers ignite learning and provide exemplary instruction in classrooms throughout our Commonwealth,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.  “They are student-focused leaders and stewards of change.  I look forward to working with them as we map a course to close the achievement gap and raise the learning bar to ensure that all of our students reach higher levels of learning.”

Ball received $10,000 and a commemorative art-glass statuette from Valvoline, while Callahan and Kaufmann each received $3,000 and a customized art glass statuette. In addition, the Kentucky Department of Education will provide an ambassadorship or suitable alternative for Ball, who also will represent the state in the 2020 National Teacher of the Year competition.

The remaining 21 winners each received $500 cash awards.  All 24 teachers received framed certificates and were recognized at a luncheon following the ceremony in Frankfort.

The first tier of the selection process was completed in March, with 24 teachers selected for the Teacher Achievement Award.

The nine top scorers, three each from the elementary, middle and high school levels, were selected; and teams of educators visited their classrooms to view them at work and to conduct personal interviews.  From those nine, three were selected as 2020 Kentucky Teachers of the Year. The selection of the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year was based on the compilation of scores from all phases of the judging.

This marks the 19th year of the program to honor Kentucky educators.  Since its inception, the program has awarded more than $850,000 to 596 teachers in grades K-12.

(Photo l-r: Melanie Coleman, Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Erin Elizabeth Ball, Middle School and overall Teacher of the Year; and Matthew Kaufmann, High School Teacher of the year. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Today via Kentucky Department of Education)

By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today