A light for the Suns is shining extra bright. Spring Hill Elementary kindergarten teacher Michelle Shaw was named the 2023 Fayette County Teacher of the Year at the annual awards ceremony on April 13.
Shaw is a 17-year teaching veteran who finds her passion is helping build educational foundations.
“As a kindergarten teacher, or as an early grades teacher, you can sometimes feel unseen,” she said in her acceptance speech. “It can feel like the work that we do is not as important as the upper grade teachers who work hard so that their students can master the standards and make threes and fours on the milestones, or like the teachers in middle school who help students manage a big transitional period in their lives as they begin and grow through adolescence, or like the job of high school teachers who do the work to prepare students to enter the real world. However, like anything built to last, a strong foundation is essential for a lasting structure. This has been and will continue to be my teaching philosophy.”
The win is extra special for her school. Shaw is Spring Hill’s first Fayette County Teacher of the Year.
“It was not that long ago, on a sunny day in March of 2019, that, as soon as the doors of the job fair opened, I confidently walked directly to the Spring Hill table knowing I wanted to be a Sun. The smiles were warm and the people were welcoming,” remembered Shaw. “My principal and I have often reminisced about this moment, always confirming that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It has been a joy to be a Spring Hill Sun, and I am humbled by my colleagues’ recognition of my hard work and dedication to the Spring Hill Family.”
Along with her family, administration, and paraprofessional, Shaw applauded all of her fellow Teacher of the Year nominees.
“Each of you, in your own special way, have shown your school and the community your commitment to your students and the importance of education,” she said. “The days may be long, the breaks may seem too short, but the work that we do in the four walls of our classroom, across our buildings, and throughout our county is immeasurable.”
The three finalists, Shaw along with Shelley Kozlowski of Whitewater High and Calvin Maddox of Fayette LIFE Academy, were observed in their classrooms and interviewed by the judging panel, which consisted of two retired educators and last year’s county winner, Christy Todd of Rising Starr Middle. The teacher with the highest combined judges’ score was named the 2023 Fayette County Teacher of the Year.
“The honor of being named the Teacher of the Year, shines a great light on the work we do in the classroom and beyond. Thank you for seeing us,” said Shaw. “I am proud and honored to be recognized as the 2023 Fayette County Teacher of the Year. Thank you!”