by Brad Duncan
Named one of 24 Teacher Achievement Award Winners in September, Erika Webb was one of just eight teachers vying for the honor of Kentucky High School Teacher of the year. Not only did the University of Kentucky alumna claim that award on Oct. 19, she also beat out the elementary and middle school honorees to earn the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year award.
“I am so humbled and overwhelmed by this award,” Webb said. “I truly can’t believe that I won, and I know I need to work hard to live up to all of this praise. I was blessed to have amazing professors at UK, as both an undergraduate and graduate student, who helped me develop my skills as an educator. From Dr. Geraldine Maschio, Professor Russell Henderson, Dr. Arthur Wrobel and Dr. Elizabeth Spaulding, I learned that compassion, intellectual curiosity and academic rigor can co-exist in the same classroom, and I apply that principle to my own classroom each day.”
Webb, who earned her bachelor’s degree in theatre from the UK College of Fine Arts and her master’s degree in secondary education from the UK College of Education, is in her 10th year as an English teacher at East Jessamine High School in Nicholasville, Ky. Certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), Webb’s other honors include the 2010 Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching, 2009 East Jessamine High School Teacher of the Year and Jessamine County Schools Excellence in Education for High School Teaching. Her professional affiliations include the NBPTS, National Council for Teachers of English and the Kentucky Association of Professional Educators.
“I am no different than the thousands of teachers working to help students achieve each day,” Webb said. “I am honored to be able to represent their quality teaching and bring the concerns of Kentucky’s educators to a national stage through the National Teacher of the Year process which I begin tomorrow.”
As the Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Webb received a cash prize and a commemorative crystal glass bowl. In addition, the Department of Education will provide a sabbatical or suitable alternative for Webb, who also will represent the state in the 2011 National Teacher of the Year competition.
This is the 10th year Ashland Inc. and the Kentucky Department of Education have co-sponsored the Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards. Applications for the program were distributed across the state, and the first tier of the selection process was completed in August, with 24 teachers selected as 2011 Ashland Inc. Teacher Achievement Award winners. Nine top scorers – three each from the elementary, middle and high school levels – were selected, and teams of educators visited their classrooms to view them at work and to conduct personal interviews. From those nine, three were selected as 2011 Kentucky Teachers of the Year. The selection of the overall Kentucky Teacher of the Year was based on a compilation of scores from all phases of judging.
Ashland Inc. has recognized outstanding teachers through its Teacher Achievement Awards Program since 1988. Since that time, more than $600,000 has been awarded to nearly 400 teachers in grades K through 12.
Along with Webb, the UK College of Education was represented by five additional teachers among the 24 Teacher Achievement Award winners:
- Scott Cahill, Bourbon County Middle School;
- James Darrell Vincent, Bullitt East High School;
- Joshua Meredith, Mt. Washington Middle School;
- Catherine Caudill, Eastside Elementary School; and
- Vanessa Wicinski, Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
Special thanks to Lisa Gross (Kentucky Department of Education) for contributing to this story.