Community now has two Kentucky Teachers of the Year

December 18, 2003|HERB BROCK

When Patti Rowland found out Wednesday that she was the 2004 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, another educator in the Danville school district was feeling exactly what Rowland was going through.

Mardi Montgomery is elementary school resource teacher, gifted and talented director and Danville Kids University coordinator for Danville schools. But four years ago this month, she was teaching in a classroom at Boyle County High School when she was paid a visit by the commissioner of the state Department of Education.

"I was told that I was 2000 Kentucky Teacher of the Year," Montgomery said today. "I remember how overwhelming the experience was. I had never been so surprised in my life, and I'm sure Patti felt the same way.

"I remember the experience like it was yesterday, and I still cherish it," said Montgomery. "It says something about education and educators in this community that there are two state Teachers of the Year right here, and they have been selected in the last few years, close to one another."


Early Wednesday afternoon, Rowland was at Hogsett Elementary School, where she is technology resource curriculum teacher, and she was expecting a visit from Commissioner Gene Wilhoit and knew he was going to announce that she was 2004 Kentucky Elementary School Teacher of the Year and winner of a plaque and a $2,000 check from Ashland Inc.

But she didn't know Wilhoit also was going to announce that she had beaten out the 2004 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year and the 2004 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year to win the top, overall honor as 2004 Teacher of the Year. That honor comes with a plaque, a $10,000 check and a chance to become national teacher of the year.

Rowland and the two other winners, both from Lexington schools, were among 22 teachers statewide who were winners of Ashland Inc. Teacher Achievement Awards. They each received $500 and were put in the running for the state awards.

"It's a wonderful honor, and I'm very flattered that people see in me in such a light," said Rowland, who served as Hogsett's library media specialist for five years until she became the school's technology resource teacher five years ago. "And, yes, I was very surprised to win the overall award for the state.

"But most of all, I see this as recognition of what everyone in our district attempts to do, and that is to provide the best learning environment possible for children. There is no greater reward for me, in my current role in technology, than to work with kids and see the light come on in their heads and then watch them grow. I get the same reward when I work with teachers and see them grow once they know how they can use technology to improve their own skills as teachers."

Rowland, who has been a teacher for 28 years, said she could not have won the award - or, more important, been able to do her job effectively - without support from her superiors and colleagues.

"A lot of what I do is collaborative, and I am fortunate to work with a wonderful group of educators who are every bit as dedicated to what they do as I try to be and who make it easy to do my job," said Rowland, a Louisville native who earned her bachelor's degree from Centre College, master's degree from the University of Louisville and Rank I certification from Eastern Kentucky University.

As principal at Hogsett, Rebecca Goode knows Rowland's work first-hand and is "impressed on a daily basis."

"Patti gives 110 percent to every task she handles, and she meets every deadline and standard I set for her, the district sets for her and she sets for herself," said Goode.

"She has developed the computer lab way beyond where she found it, and she has created a learning environment and instruction program that has made our student body computer literate and our program a model."

Another person who is closely involved with Rowland's work is Sandy Embree, elementary curriculum coordinator for the Danville schools. Embree said that while the word is not in Rowland's job title, a "leader is very much what Patti is."

"She is an outstanding educator with a wide range of experience that enables her to do a lot of new and different things," said Embree. "She is a fabulous educator and so deserving of this recognition, though she is not one who enjoys the limelight. But I know she would appreciate the honor in the context of it being a positive for her school and district as well as herself.

"While her main work involves technology, she wears many hats at Hogsett and the district," she said. "She does scheduling for the school and makes sure teachers have adequate time for planning. She was involved in a scholastic review at another school and applied what she gathered from that experience to efforts to make improvements at Hogsett. She works closely with certain teachers to help them develop their skills.

Another colleague who now has something very special in common with Rowland agrees.

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