2016 - Karen Ward

LaRue County Schools named Karen Ward of Abraham Lincoln Elementary School the district’s 2016 ExCEL Teacher of the Year.

“I’m honored because I know I was nominated along with other great teachers,” Ward said. “When you work in a district full of excellent teachers, it’s surprising and overwhelming to be chosen for this award.”

Ward, a fourth-grade math teacher, was recognized at a dinner Thursday along with the district’s three other finalists: Cara Holt, an art teacher at Hodgenville Elementary School, Pam Baker, a math teacher at LaRue County Middle School, and Heather Blackwell, an English teacher at LaRue County High School.

“These four teachers are exceptional leaders in their profession, and LaRue County is fortunate to have them in our classrooms,” said superintendent Sam Sanders. “We’re very proud to honor their work and what it means for students.”

Ward, who grew up in Buffalo and is the daughter of former Buffalo Elementary School principal Glen Rice and Peggy Rice, explained in her ExCEL application that she strives to have an impact in her school, just as her former teachers did.

“As I enter the doors of this school, my hope and my mission is to have a child or even an adult look back 20 years from now and remember the way I made them feel,” she wrote.

The LG&E KU/WHAS11 Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leadership Award recognizes and rewards the contributions of public schools and the teaching profession to the development and well-being of young people and the community.

Ward will be honored in a public ceremony at 9 a.m. Jan. 6 at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.

ExCEL award finalists completed an extensive application process including essays, interviews and announced and unannounced classroom observations, said instructional supervisor Denise Skaggs, who coordinates the ExCEL Award. Each step of the process was scored by a committee of two educators from outside LaRue County Schools and a member of the LaRue County community.