View complete list of honorees here.
Susan Wormley, a former teacher from Oswego, Ill. may not have realized at the time, but she inspired one of her fifth grade students, who would eventually become a familiar face on televisions in Lexington, Ky.
Bill Meck, chief meterologist for WLEX18, says Wormley was the one who encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a weatherman.
“Even before I had Mrs. Wormley as a teacher, I wanted to be a television weatherman,” said Meck. “What I still remember, and a story I often tell, is she made me a weather map out of felt; blue covered cardboard with a yellow United States on it. I used to put the highs, lows, fronts, and raindrops on it and give a weather report to the class.”
Meck says without Wormley’s encouragment, there is a chance he would not be where he is today.
“It’s hard to imagine how many lives she’s touched directly in her 40+ years of teaching, but I’m sure there are many of us who would not be where we are without her,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine someone more dedicated to the craft of teaching.”
Jazmene Landing, a UK student, says DeShana Collett, an assistant professor of physcian assistant studies in the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences, has inspired her to persist in her education.
“Dr. Collett was able to finish high school early and graduate from college all while supporting herself and a young daughter,” said Landing. “As an African American student and mother, there were times I thought that schoool wasn’t for someone like me and that I should start working and looking for other options. But seeing Dr. Collett set goals and achieve so much, I knew that I could also aspire to do great things in my life.”
Landing said Collett makes an effort to support diversity throughout campus, and advocates strongly for her students.
“She makes an effort to help students that are ready and willing to put in the time and work to be a success,” said Landing. “She beat the odds and stigmas against her and showed many that when you put your mind to it, anything can be achieved.”
Meck and Landing will honor Wormley and Collett as “Teachers Who Made a Difference” this Saturday, and will escort them to a ceremony where they will be recognized along with nearly 150 other educators.
The 16th annual Teachers Who Made a Difference ceremony, part of the UK College of Education, gives all individuals the means to thank an educator who has impacted their lives. Nearly 2,000 teachers have been honored since the program’s inception.
“The UK College of Education prides itself on preparing great teachers,” said Mary Ann Vimont, the college’s director of public relations and student, alumni and community affairs. “As part of our mission, we also think it is important to honor those teachers who are making a difference in the lives of their students, here in Kentucky and across the country.”
Each year, all submissions are accepted up to a predetermined limit with each being honored that year. Also each year, the program is assisted by a spokesperson who helps get the word out. In the past, John Calipari, Dermontti Dawson, Tubby Smith, Lee T. Todd Jr., Kyle Macy, and Dan and Cheri Issel have led the charge. In 2012, 2013 and again this year, UK Women’s Basketball Coach Matthew Mitchell has served as the spokesperson.
“Teaching is my job, teaching is my passion. And it is something that I love and hope to do the rest of my life,” said Mitchell. “It is a tremendous thing to be a teacher.”
Submissions for the 2015 program will be accepted beginning in December 2014 at education.uky.edu/twmad