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“Teacher Who Made a Difference” Program Honors Record Number of Educators

Celebrating its 10th year, Teachers Who Made a Difference program honored a record number of educators during its 2008 ceremony held Saturday, March 29. More than 130 educators from 16 states were recognized for the significant influence they have had in the lives of their students.

“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.”

The program got its start in 1998 as part of the college’s 75th anniversary celebration. With over 90 teachers honored that year and the overwhelming support from the UK campus and community, the College of Education decided to make it an annual event. In its 10 years, more than 1,100 educators have been honored.

“The College of Education is a foundation for educator preparation in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said James G. Cibulka, dean of the College. “Our graduates work in many areas around the country and the world. With that as the backbone of our mission, we are here today to honor educators from across the country. This program is not limited to those who teach in Kentucky or who are graduates of the University. We are honoring any educator who has been nominated as having made a difference in someone’s life.”

Teachers Who Made a Difference was never intended as a competition and every educator who is nominated is honored. While only a certain number are accepted each year, those nominations received after the cutoff point will be at the top of the list for the next year’s program.

Each year, the program is assisted by a spokesperson who helps get the word out. In the past, Dermontti Dawson and Tubby Smith have led the charge, while in 2008 UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. hailed the importance of the event and talked about a great teacher in his life back in Earlington, Ky.

“When I was going through Earlington High School, Bill Fulkerson was our math and science teacher,” Todd said via a video address. “He was extremely encouraging to me. I had several math courses with him, and he kept track of me as I went through school.”

Todd went on to describe a particular incident in which Fulkerson provided him with a kit for turning light into sound, which sparked Todd’s interest in becoming an engineer.

Educators were invited to a breakfast reception at the UK Student Center Great Hall where the group Paws and Listen from the UK School of Music provided entertainment. In addition, a group of students from the Maxwell Street Elementary school performed a couple of songs in Spanish to the delight of the large crowd on hand. The program was rounded out by the recognition of the nominees and the presentation of plaques to those in attendance.