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Rowan educator named KEA Teacher of the Year

Kentucky Education Association

A local high school teacher earned some state-wide recognition for her work in the classroom. Rowan County High School Biology Teacher Melissa Jenkins was named Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Education Association. Officials said the award is given to an educator who exhibits excellence in professional practice, advocacy for the profession, attention to diversity, community engagement and leadership in professional development.

Jenkins said professional development has been critical in her career. She said learning to engage students with tangible and applicable learning experiences is key to their success. 

“So that they can see the value in what they’re learning and to see how that applies. That’s really the shift that we’re seeing a lot of in education is, how can this be applicable to me? How is it important to my community and how can I reach out and truly perform a learning activity that’s going to have an impact somewhere?”

Even though she’s been teaching in Rowan County for nearly 20 years, Jenkins said there are several things she is looking forward to in the upcoming school year.

“Some of the shifts in education right now have really geared more toward those authentic learning experiences. The shift in curriculum that I’ve been planning and I’ve been implementing. My district is extraordinary at providing opportunities and when I ask to go to a P.D. most often, they’re like, ‘oh, sure.’”

Jenkins has served as a professional development instructor for technology integration, a subject KEA officials said she is a leader in. The biology teacher began using web-based services to enhance her students’ educational experience in 2015. She said that allowed her students to more easily transition into remote learning during the pandemic.