by Brad Duncan
As the familiar refrain of the University of Kentucky Fight Song reverberated through the UK Student Center Theater, Matthew Mitchell was caught by surprise. It was then that senior UK women’s basketball player Keyla Snowden approached the stage to present her coach with a Teachers Who Made A Difference award at the UK College of Education’s annual event. Mitchell was on hand to take part in the event on April 28 as the program’s 2012 spokesperson, but he had no idea he would be honored as well.
“I think it is a privilege to be called to be a teacher,” Mitchell told the packed house of educators, their nominators and their families. “I was called to do that 18 years ago. It is one of the most incredible things that can happen to a person, to impact people in such a positive way. What a tremendous way to spend some time together today to think about what we’ve been called to do. I want to encourage you to continue to inspire people, continue to teach, continue to make a difference in your students’ lives. It is an absolute honor to be in your presence today.”
Celebrating its 14th year, the UK College of Education’s Teachers Who Made a Difference program honored nearly 150 educators from 13 states for the significant influence they have had in the lives of their students. Since its inception, the program has recognized more than 1,700 educators.
“The University of Kentucky 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.”
Teachers Who Made a Difference is not a competition. 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, Dermontti Dawson, Tubby Smith, UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr., Kyle Macy, and Dan and Cheri Issel have led the charge. In 2011, UK Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari offered his support of the program.
Educators were invited to a breakfast reception and program at the UK Student Center Great Hall and Center Theater. Entertainment was provided by Jamie Bradley, daughter of College of Education Associate Professor Kelly Bradley, and the SCAPA Bluegrass Choir with 2010 Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent. The program was rounded out by the recognition of the honorees and the presentation of certificates to those in attendance.
If you are interested in nominating a teacher for the 2013 program, submissions will be accepted beginning in December 2012 at education.uky.edu/twmad