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FEATURED 'What we do matters every single day,' says state's Teacher of the Year

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Mandy Perez, a Crittenden County Middle School teacher, was named the Kentucky 2023 Teacher of the Year, earning a $10,000 award, during a ceremony Tuesday in the state Capitol Rotunda.

Perez said she has a passion for teaching.

"I love what I do, I love kids, and I love teaching. Teaching is the best profession in the world, and if you're a teacher, you know that. It's tough, and there are a lot of days when you don't know if you can go back in and do it again. But we do, every single day, and what we do matters every single day."

Twenty-four teachers were announced as recipients of the 2023 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Awards, each of whom receive $500.

The Elementary School Teacher of the Year was Kelly Gates, of Pride Elementary School in the Hopkins County School District, Perez was Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Amber Sergent of Woodford County High School was named High School Teacher of the Year. Each of them received $3,000.

Valvoline, as sponsor of the annual awards program, provided the cash awards made on Tuesday.

Gov. Andy Beshear, who made the presentation to Perez, had a message for all teachers in Kentucky. "Every single teacher here and across the commonwealth are truly amazing and making a difference. So, while we are going to recognize one individual teacher as Teacher of the Year, please take our gratitude, our thanks and our love, because what you do is so important. And we need you so much."

In addition to the three finalists for the Teacher of the Year award, the others winning the Teacher Achievement Awards were:

Elementary School

Rebecca Brewer, Norton Commons Elementary (Jefferson County)

Ashley Buchanon, Rockfield Elementary (Warren County)

Amber Hays, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center (Henderson County)

Shannon Kay, New Haven Elementary (Boone County)

Julie Moore, School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Bluegrass (Fayette County)

Melinda Richardson, Clay City Elementary (Powell County)

Cassandra Walden, East Bernstadt Elementary (East Bernstadt Independent)

Middle School

Caitlin Buckley, Kentucky School for the Deaf

Angela Dilts-Pollock, Farnsley Middle (Jefferson County)

Nathaniel Green, Newport High (Newport Independent Schools)

Danielle Hicks, Clinton County Middle

Justin Mitchell, Franklin-Simpson Middle (Simpson County)

Rhoda Whitaker, Whitesburg Middle (Letcher County)

Charlena Williams, Hancock County Middle

High School

Cathy Conley, Knott County Central High (Knott County)

Eddie Groves, Ohio County High

Tina Henry, Boyle County High

Robin Kemp, Highlands High (Fort Thomas Independent)

Victoria Mohon, Christian County High

Lauren Niemann, Fern Creek High (Jefferson County)

Steven Thomas, Green County Area Technology Center (Green County)

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