Celebrating its 11th year, the University of Kentucky College of Education’s Teachers Who Made a Difference program honored a record number of educators during its 2009 ceremony held Saturday, April 25. More than 200 educators from 20 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 11 years, more than 1,300 educators have been honored.
“As a college of education at a research, land-grant institution, the College provides a wide range of educator preparation programs across grade levels and content areas,” said Rosetta Sandidge, interim dean of the College. “We have graduates who work in each of the 50 states and in many countries around the world. With that mission as a backdrop, we are proud to sponsor this program that recognizes the impact of teachers on the lives of their students.”
Also each year, the program is assisted by a spokesperson who helps get the word out. In the past, Dermontti Dawson, Tubby Smith and UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr., have led the charge, while in 2009 former UK basketball great Dan Issel and his wife, Cheri, offered their support of the program. Cheri is a former UK cheerleader and is a graduate of the College of Education.
“My high school coach also was my physical education teacher, and he took a real interest in me,” Dan Issel said. “I wasn’t the most talented player that had ever come along, but he saw something in me.”
“My grandmother was a teacher, and I remember my dad telling so many stories about her,” Cheri Issel said. “She got her education later in life. She went back to school and taught in the local small school. He was just so proud of her.”
Educators were invited to a breakfast reception at the UK Student Center Great Hall where pianist Courtney Allen provided entertainment. In addition, Jamie Bradley, daughter of College of Education Assistant Professor Kelly Bradley, sang for the crowd. The program was rounded out by the recognition of the honorees and the presentation of plaques to those in attendance.