WKCTC hosts Seventh Annual Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program


Paducah, KY (03/29/2024) — West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) hosted its Seventh Annual Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program, where more than 125 area educators, administrators, and staff were celebrated during a red-carpet event. The ceremony, held on March 28, drew more than 400 educators, family members, friends, and students who cheered for the honorees.

Faculty, administrators, and staff from throughout the Jackson Purchase area and southern Illinois were nominated for awards in five categories. These awards recognized distinguished faculty for grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, distinguished faculty for grades sixth through 12th grade, distinguished administrators, and two awards named for Cornelia Reece, a retired educator with over 27 years of experience and the wife of WKCTC President Anton Reece.

Established in 2017 by Dr. Reece, the awards and scholarship program celebrates educators, administrators, and staff members who work tirelessly to prepare the next generation of education leaders. The annual ceremony honors the vital role educators play daily 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 counties in Illinois.

Last fall, WKCTC called for nominations for educators, administrators, and support staff from across the region. More than 200 faculty, staff, and administrators received nominations submitted by area students, parents, community members, and colleagues. Some honorees received several nominations. Each nominee was then asked to submit an application. This year’s program recognized more than half of the nominees who completed the application process. The applications underwent a thorough review by a panel of judges who used a detailed rubric to determine two finalists and a winner in each of the five award categories.

“Thank you to WKCTC for hosting this amazing event every year. Thank you to my supportive husband, who listens to me every night, my colleagues who make every day fun and keep us going, my administrators who are always supportive… and most of all, I thank the students and families – everything we do is for them,” said Kate Lambert, winner of the 2024 Distinguished Faculty Pre-Kindergarten through 5th Grade Award.

The keynote speaker was Donna G. Newsome Hawkins, pastor of Paducah’s Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, and a retired educator with over thirty years of experience. Before the ceremony began, event volunteers gave everyone in the audience a penny provided by Pastor Hawkins. As she referenced the penny to the educators, Pastor Hawkins asked that they keep it close. “I gave you this penny so it will remind you that you are the “one sent” to make a difference in the lives of our students.”

In conjunction with the awards program, a scholarship for WKCTC students interested in K-12 teaching or educational support majors was established to encourage and assist the region’s future educators. Proceeds from sponsorships of the event will go directly to the Future Educators Scholarship fund.

Winners and finalists were:

Distinguished Faculty Award (PreK-5th grade) Winner: Kate Lambert, Clark Elementary School teacher

Finalists: Lindsay Koebbe, Murray Middle School fourth-grade teacher; Cody Lane, Symsonia Elementary School fifth-grade social studies teacher

Distinguished Faculty Award (6th – 12th grades) Winner: Kelly Locker, South Marshall Middle School teacher

Finalists: Clay Burgess, Lone Oak Middle School orchestra director; Kim Roberts, Graves County High School social studies department chair and teacher

Jean Little (center), Shonda Hollowell Burrus (left), Kendra Glenn (right)

Distinguished Administrator Award Winner: Jean Little, Carr Elementary, Fulton Independent Schools principal

Finalists: Shonda Hollowell Burrus, Paducah Public Schools chief equity officer; Kendra Glenn, Calvert City Elementary School principal

Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Administrative Staff Award Winner: Marcie Leonard, Graves County High School, counselor

Finalists: Kelli Bowland, Lone Oak Intermediate School, counselor; Brandi Rogers, Reidland Elementary School family resource coordinator

Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Support Staff Award Winner: Kanda Boyd, South Livingston Elementary School kitchen manager and child nutrition program assistant

Finalists: Lori Kauffman, Clark Elementary School finance secretary; Trish Pickett, Murray Head Start data services specialist

Dr. Reece also recognized individuals through his President’s Awards, including Casey Henderson, Superintendent Carlisle County Schools; Linette Hamilton, retired McCracken County School teacher; Shirley Massie, retired Paducah Public Schools educator; and Rhonda Wicker, gifted and talented teacher for Calloway County Schools, who was recently named the 2023-2024 Challenger Learning Center Outstanding Educator.

Dr. Reece expressed his gratitude to WKCTC Education Coordinator Patricia Blaine, who is retiring in May after more than 35 years with the college. Blaine has been instrumental in shaping and nurturing future leaders, serving on the Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program committee since its inception and consistently volunteering for the annual award ceremonies.

“I’d like to take just a second to thank so many of you who have taken my students into your classrooms to do their field observations. Thank you to the administration for helping them organize that. They are our future. We need those teachers, and they are going to be awesome!” Blaine said. Following the ceremony, she noted, “I was very surprised. It was very meaningful probably the best retirement gift I could have had.”

The evening’s program can be viewed on the WKCTC Facebook page.

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