Three McCracken County teachers will be among those honored at the Murray State University College of Education and Human Services’ 35th Annual Harry M. Sparks Distinguished Lecture Tuesday, April 30. Following a public nomination process, a committee met and selected seven educators to receive the college’s alumni awards, including from McCracken:
• Kimberly Nantz of Hendron Lone Oak Elementary — Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher
• Stephanie Laird of Heath Elementary — Outstanding Elementary School Teacher
• Lori Hyde of Lone Oak Middle School — Outstanding Middle School Teacher
Nantz, Laird and Hyde learned invaluable lessons in the MSU College of Education, lessons they’ve carried with them into their 43 combined years of teaching.
Nantz said the biggest lesson she learned was to see the abilities — not the disabilities — in students. For current MSU education students, she has two pieces of advice.
“First, meet your students where they are each day, but at that same time, have high expectations for them,” she said. “Second, make sure your students feel loved and safe. If they feel that, learning will come.”
Laird said her most valuable lesson she learned at MSU was that educators truly can and do make a difference in the lives of their students. When she’s not teaching 5th grade math at HES, Laird teaches for the MSU College of Education as an adjunct professor.
“One of the most important bits of advice I have continued to give my students is the importance of building relationships with each student that walks into their classroom,” Laird said.
Hyde echoed Laird’s sentiments, and said she’d encourage current education students to build positive relationships with everyone they meet in school — every professor, staff member, office worker, cafeteria worker and custodian.
“Everyone has a bad day or makes a mistake,” she said, “but when we build positive relationships with the people and students we meet, those days and mistakes are met with the kindness that you have already shared.”
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the Sparks Lecture in the Murray Room of the CFSB Center from 5 to 7 p.m. April 30. In addition to the Alumni Awards presentation, the event will feature a lecture by Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., and a complimentary dinner. Lewis currently serves as the Kentucky Commissioner of Education and leads the Kentucky Department of Education.