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Q: What is this program and when/how did it begin?

A: The University of Kentucky College of Education Teachers Who Made a Difference Program got its start in 1998 as part of the College’s 75th anniversary celebration. With more than 100 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 18 years, close to 2,000 educators have been honored.

The idea was born one day when Mary Ann Vimont, Director of Alumni and Community Relations, was visiting a local school. She arrived at the school to check in with some of her interns but found no one in their classrooms. After looking around a while, she walked by the gymnasium and saw a large group of the school’s students sitting on the floor listening to then-UK Head Basketball Coach Tubby Smith. Coach Smith was telling the students how important education and their teachers were and that if they needed anything, they could go to them. He said their teachers make a difference in their lives.

Vimont returned to the College of Education that day and began working on the first Teachers Who Made a Difference Program.

Q: Is the program just for teachers and students at the University of Kentucky?

A: This program was not designed to honor only those affiliated with the University of Kentucky. Anyone can honor an educator who made a difference in his or her life, no matter where that educator lives or where that educator earned his or her degree. We have honored educators who live in other countries. This program is not limited to teachers in the strictest sense. Other qualifying educators include, but are not limited to, principals, guidance counselors, coaches, mentors, and other school leaders.

Q: How are the honorees chosen?

A: There is no selection process. Each year we accept submissions up to a pre-determined maximum (on average about 100-150 educators, based on seating capacity at the event location). Every educator submitted up to that maximum number will be honored that year. If a submission is made after the deadline or after the maximum number for that year has been reached, that educator will be added to the list for the following year and will be honored at that time. We honor everyone who is nominated.

Q: What information do you need for my submission?

A: We require your contact information (name, phone, e-mail address and mailing address) and your honoree’s information (name, phone, e-mail address and mailing address). Also, please include a brief description of how your honoree has made a difference in your life.

Q: What if I don’t have any contact information for my honoree?

A: The main purpose of the event is to give individuals the opportunity to honor an educator who made a difference in their lives AND to invite those educators to a program at the University of Kentucky where each is honored. In order to do that, we must be able to contact and invite them.

Q: Can I honor more than one educator?

A: In order to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to honor an educator, we limit submissions to one per person. If you have more than one educator you’d like to honor, we encourage you to submit another educator next year.

Q: What do the educators who are honored receive?

A: In addition to being invited to the program and a light breakfast reception, each honoree will receive an award. Attendance,however, is not required to receive the award. We will mail the awards to all honorees unable to attend.

Q: The educator I am honoring received an invitation, but I did not. Why not?

A: Because we usually have limited space for the program, we want to include as many honored educators and their guests as possible. Therefore, when the educator is invited we wait to see if that educator will be attending before inviting the person who submitted that educator’s name. The goal is to have as many educators and those honoring them be in attendance as possible.

Q: Is this a fundraiser? Does UK get any money from this program?

A: The University of Kentucky College of Education sponsors the Teachers Who Made a Difference Program as a way to honor educators who have made profound impacts on the lives of their students. The Program and Breakfast is provided free of charge to the honorees and their guests. All funds required for having the event are provided by the UK College of Education and through private donations.