Pictured: Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching Award recipients are Laura Evans, left, Jessica Beaven, and (not pictured) Pam Baker.
By Ron Benningfield
Three LaRue County school teachers have been selected as the 2017 Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching Award recipients.
Laura Evans, a fifth-grade teacher at Hodgenville Elementary School; Pam Baker, seventh-grade math teacher at LaRue County Middle School; and Jessica Beaven, a LaRue County High School eleventh-grade algebra and English teacher were recognized for their accomplishments at the district board of education’s meeting March 20.
Eric Hughes, HES principal, said his school is blessed to have Evans on staff.
“Mrs. Evans displays many characteristics of great teachers. She understands her content, builds relationships with students and develops engaging lessons that are memorable to students,” he noted. “On any given day, you can walk into her classroom and witness debates, acting out of scripts or other meaningful discussions.”
Hughes observed that Evans’ students enjoy her class, both academically and socially.
A fifth-grade social studies teacher, Evans has taught in LaRue County for four years.
Baker has spent four of her 19 years in teaching at LCMS. Her principal, Jason Detre, said Baker embodies many of the traits often used to describe excellent classroom teachers.
“She develops rigor, relationships and relevance both inside and outside the walls of her classroom,” Detre stated. “Pam is a driven educator who wants the best for every student and colleague. She understands the value in understanding data and applying that to her classroom teaching. She continually provides students with the skills and standards they need to grow and develop as mathematicians.”
A 2003 LaRue County High School graduate, Jessica Beaven started her teaching career at LaRue County in Januar 2008.
Interim LCHS principal Denise Skaggs remarked, “Jessica is one of our teacher leaders on our district Kagan Cooperative Learning team.
Beaven led professional development with school staff and currently serves as a mentor when teachers need assistance with Kagan structures.
“She teaches in both our English and math departments so her knowledge of both English and math standards is vital,” Skaggs said.
“She has also been involved with our District Network Committee that reviews curriculum, instruction and assessment for our school,” she added.
For this column, each recipient was asked to state what her reply would be if asked to narrow the traits of excellent teachers to two.
Evans: “One characteristic of an excellent teacher is passion. I know it sounds cliché, but I really believe that educators must have a passion for teaching. Teaching doesn’t stop at 3 o’clock when the students leave. If you are passionate about your job, you will dedicate many hours after the students go home to better their learning. Another characteristic is to be versatile because teachers need to always be flexible for situations that arise. They need to be resourceful in their planning to encompass all learning styles and to engage all learners.”
Baker: “Content knowledge — The more you understand the content you are teaching the better you can instruct your students. It allows you to present information in a variety of ways, thus reaching more of your students’ learning styles.
"Building relationships — Your students need to know that you are truly there to help them to succeed. That means establishing routines and setting high expectations of every student. It also means realizing when a student may be struggling at school or personal life and taking the time to ask him or her how they are doing and what you can do to help.”
Beaven: “The ability to care for the needs of each individual student — On any given day a student’s needs will vary and those needs, emotional or educational, need to be met. A teacher needs to have a relationship with his/her students. The students have to trust that their needs will be met. When they are met, a teacher can truly start to make learning happen.
"A flexible and growth mind-set — The educational world is ever-changing. A teacher needs to be able to adapt and grow. Students are learning much differently than when I was in high school 15 years ago. Teachers should always be lifelong learners. We have to learn and grow each year just as much as our students do. My thoughts are that if we (teachers, student, families, and community) work together, we can achieve anything. Greatness is not beyond our reach.”
Campbellsville University began the Excellence in Teaching Awards Program in 1987. Its purpose is to recognize the quality teaching and learning taking place in school systems throughout Kentucky. In a program honoring the recipients later this spring, the university will present certificates to teachers as selected by their school districts.
Last year, teachers from 70 Kentucky school districts were recognized for their achievement, according to Joan C. McKinney, coordinating director with the Office of University Communications.