LEXINGTON — Harlan County High School Family and Consumer Science Teacher Karen Ayres Phillips was honored on April 26 by the University of Kentucky College of Education during the 2014 “Teachers Who Made A Difference 16th Annual Program” held on campus in Lexington at the Student Center Great Hall and Theater.
Teachers from across Kentucky and seven other states were honored during the program. Some 2,000 teachers have been honored since the program began.
UK College of Education Dean Mary John O’Hair told the honorees that in reviewing the nominations they honor teachers who go beyond academics to take the extra step for students.
“This is a chance to just say thank you,” said O’Hair. “We’ve been touched and blessed each year when we’ve read them (the nominations).”
University of Kentucky Lady Cat Basketball coach Matthew Mitchell serves as the “Teachers Who Made A Difference” spokesman this year.
“Teaching is my job, teaching is my passion. And it is something that I love and hope to do the rest of my life,” said Mitchell in a recorded message presented during the ceremony. “It is a tremendous thing to be a teacher.”
Special musical presentations were made by the Fayette County School magnet school for the Creative and Performing Arts Bluegrass and the now infamous acoUstiKats.
Phillips, was nominated by former fashion and interior design student Brittany Saylor, a 2012 graduate of the school.
Honorees are received from former and current students.
Phillips received a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Kentucky University in general home economics with an emphasis in foods and nutrition; clothing and textiles and a minor in public relations. She has completed graduate work at the University of Kentucky and Union College. She is certified through the National Career Development Association as a Global Career Development Facilitator.
Among other honorees was 100-year-old Martha Simpson, of Eminence, who received a standing ovation for her work in education.
Susan Wormley, a former teacher from Oswego, Ill, was honored as well. She inspired one of her fifth grade students who eventually became a familiar face on newscasts in Lexington. Bill Meck, chief meteorologist for WLEX 18, said she was the one who encouraged him to pursue his dream to be a weatherman.
Phillips and other recipients were honored with a reception that featured entertainment by the Fayette County Public School’s STEAM Academy Steel Pan Drum Band.