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Rockfield Elementary's Ashley Buchanon among 24 Kentucky Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners named for 2023

Ashley Buchanon KY Teacher of the Year

The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc. announced July 18 the selection of 24 outstanding Kentucky educators as recipients of the 2023 Valvoline™ Teacher Achievement Awards. These teachers qualify to compete for the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in September.

“The Kentucky Teacher of the Year Awards are a highlight each year for us at Valvoline,” said Sam Mitchell, Valvoline’s chief executive officer. “Kentucky teachers are some of the best teachers in the nation. Their tireless efforts to educate Kentucky’s future leaders are exemplary. Valvoline is proud to celebrate and recognize these outstanding teachers.”

The 24 winning teachers are:

Elementary School

  • Rebecca Brewer, Norton Commons Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Ashley Buchanon, Rockfield Elementary (Warren County)
  • Kelly Gates, Pride Elementary (Hopkins County)
  • Amber Hays, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center (Henderson County)
  • Shannon Kay, New Haven Elementary (Boone County)
  • Julie Moore, School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Bluegrass (Fayette County)
  • Melinda Richardson, Clay City Elementary (Powell County)
  • Cassandra Walden, East Bernstadt Elementary (East Bernstadt Independent)

Middle School

  • Caitlin Buckley, Kentucky School for the Deaf
  • Angela Dilts-Pollock, Farnsley Middle (Jefferson County)
  • Nathaniel Green, Newport High (Newport Independent Schools)
  • Danielle Hicks, Clinton County Middle
  • Justin Mitchell, Franklin-Simpson Middle (Simpson County)
  • Mandy Perez, Crittenden County Middle
  • Rhoda Whitaker, Whitesburg Middle (Letcher County)
  • Charlena Williams, Hancock County Middle

High School

  • Cathy Conley, Knott County Central High (Knott County)
  • Eddie Groves, Ohio County High
  • Tina Henry, Boyle County High
  • Robin Kemp, Highlands High (Fort Thomas Independent)
  • Victoria Mohon, Christian County High
  • Lauren Niemann, Fern Creek High (Jefferson County)
  • Amber L. Sergent, Woodford County High
  • Steven Thomas, Green County Area Technology Center (Green County)

“Teachers give of themselves every day to help students gain the skills needed to pursue their dreams,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “On behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, I congratulate these dedicated, award-winning teachers. I thank all teachers for inspiring, motivating and supporting Kentucky’s students.”

All 24 teachers will be honored during a ceremony in Frankfort on Sept. 20. At that time, the Kentucky Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year will be announced. From this group of three finalists, the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year will be named and will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Valvoline will present the 24 recipients with cash awards. In addition, the three Kentucky Teachers of the Year will receive custom-designed glassware commemorating their accomplishments.

This year, KDE received 1,987 teacher nominations from all 171 school districts. Of that number, 312 teachers completed their applications.

"This was the first time we received at least one nomination from every school district in the Commonwealth," said Toni Konz Tatman, chief communications officer for KDE. "Simply being nominated for this award means a lot to our teachers, so we appreciate every person who took the time to nominate their favorite teacher."

Judging was conducted in June by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators from across the state. Applications included information on the nominees’ teaching philosophies, teaching experiences and involvement in their respective communities, as well as letters of recommendation from peers, students, parents, administrators and others.

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