Three Knox County educators will represent the school district at the annual Campbellsville University “Excellence in Teaching” awards program this year.
Beth Mills, Kenny Smallwood, and Allen Taylor were selected by their co-workers to receive this year’s award which will be presented on Saturday, May 12, on the campus of Campbellsville University.
Beth Mills is a teacher at Dewitt Elementary School. In her seventh year of teaching, she has taught 1st and 2nd grades. She holds a masters degree from Union College.
“Shocked” is how Mills described winning the award.
“I didn’t know that they had nominated me,” stated Mills.
Although Mills did not realize her calling to be a teacher until she got older, she received practice growing up with six younger brothers and sisters.
“With me being the oldest, I always got to be in charge of helping them with their homework,” said Mills. “Playing school, I always got to be the teacher.”
One of the reasons that she enjoys teaching at Dewitt is because of her colleagues.
“We are all so close. It is a small school so everyone knows one another, everyone is on the same team.”
Mills cites parental involvement as one of the biggest challenges facing teachers today.
“It is really hard to get parents on-board, whether it be after school or just helping out their child at home.”
One of the greatest advantages to the teaching profession according to Mills is seeing your former students enter and graduate from high school.
“Seeing the impact you’ve had on their lives or having them come back and tell you something you did for them makes a difference,” said Mills.
In addition to teaching, Mills enjoys living on a farm with her children, including playing with them outdoors and riding horses. She is married to Brandon and they have two children, Landon and Lilly.
Five years into the education profession, Kenny Smallwood is a math teacher at Knox Appalachian School. With a major in business and minors in history and math from University of Kentucky, Smallwood earned his teaching certification and Rank I at Union College.
Smallwood said that he too was in shock when he learned that he was selected to receive the award.
“I was proud and happy that my peers and colleagues thought that highly of me,” stated Smallwood.
Working at Knox Appalachian School has created an appreciation for diversity in Smallwood.
“We have children from all walks of life. It’s a new experience everyday, and everyday is a new challenge.”
Smallwood has always found teaching to be enjoyable and credits his experience in school for his calling as a teacher.
“In school I was always the student that the teacher picked to help others. I took two peer tutoring classes when I was in high school to help younger children.”
One of the toughest challenges that he faces as a teacher is the diversity between generations and the ways that they learn.
“New kids are coming in that are more tech savvy than I ever was. It’s adapting to teach that type of child as they learn differently than I was taught.”
Outside of the classroom Smallwood enjoys spending time with his wife Faith and two children Madeline and Toby.
Allen Taylor has been encouraging discovery and investigation in Knox Central science students for the past twenty seven years. As a graduate from Eastern Kentucky University and Cumberland College, he holds a bachelors degree in biology and a masters in education.
“It was a nice honor,” stated Taylor after learning about being selected for the award. “You feel like people appreciate what you have done.”
Taylor gives credit to Knox Central’s students for his passion in the classroom.
“Lots of good students that work hard and try to do good in school,” stated Taylor. “It’s fun to work with them.”
Growing up, Taylor always liked school and knew that someday he would become a teacher.
“When I was in high school, a lot of students always looked forward to graduating and leaving. I hated graduating because I liked going to school.”
After twenty seven years in the classroom, Taylor continues to enjoy school but says that the profession has it’s challenges.
“All of the paperwork. There is so much of it, it’s hard to focus on instruction because it takes so much of your time.”
Taylor enjoys the interaction with students the most. He says that you feel like you have accomplished something when you see in their eyes that they understand.
In addition to his teaching duties at Knox Central, Taylor has also served as a coach. He enjoys sports and being outside and the environment.
Campbellsville University began the Excellence in Teaching awards program in 1987 as a way of recognizing quality teaching and learning taking place throughout Kentucky.