Corbin Middle School science teacher Melissa Evans was named one of the state’s top teachers Friday by the state Department of Education and Ashland, Inc.
Melissa Evans was given the award for Middle School Teacher of the year at the Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards ceremony – one of three state educators who were honored for being Kentucky’s best. The awards were announced Friday in Frankfort.
"I was totally surprised by this because a lot of the teachers who were in it have been in it for multiple years. I was the new person on the block," Evans said. "I think this says more about all the teachers I work with than it does just about me. I think everyone here is in it for the right reason and they work extremely hard. We have great teachers in Corbin and I feel like the award is an honor for them also."
Evans joined Durrell "Butch" Hamm, an English teacher from Ryle High School in Boone County, and Jan Horn, a fifth-grade language arts teacher at Shearer Elementary School in Clark County, as Teachers of the Year. She received $3,000 and a glass vase from Ashland.
Corbin Schools Superintendent Ed McNeel said Evans was deserving of the award and that the honor speaks highly of the quality of teachers in the school system.
"I’m not surprised by it at all. She is an outstanding teacher and has great credentials," McNeel said. "We are very appreciative to have one of the top teachers in Kentucky in our school district and I think it is just representative of all the great teachers here at Corbin."
McNeel said Evans’ engaging style in the classroom coupled with her numerous published magazine articles, grant awards and ability to implement effective programs, are some of the reasons she won.
A committee of three from the Department of Education visited Evan’s classroom for half a day several weeks ago to assess her for the competition. She said the visit was nerve-wracking, but that she was glad they got to see first hand how things work in her classroom.
"I really try to gear my lessons for middle school students. Their attention spans are not very long so I try to vary the lessons and be what I like to call ‘hands on, mind on’ in the classroom," Evans said. "If I stood up and lectured for an hour, it would not be very effective."
Evans said she hopes when students leave class that they have an appreciation for science that maybe they didn’t possess before.
"There are so many rewarding opportunities for students who want to work in a science-related field and I work hard to get them interested in that," she said. "I love the age group I teach. They have so much energy and they are so curious."
Hamm, who received the top honor, got $10,000 and a commemorative glass bowl from the company.
Evans was one of 21 teachers from the state who received awards. She has taught for 16 years, with the past seven as a science teacher for seventh-grade students at Corbin Middle School. Evans earned bachelors and master’s degrees, as well as Rank 1 certification at Union College. She has performed in leadership capacities throughout her career and currently serves as a resource teacher for the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) and for student teachers from Union College, the University of the Cumberlands and Eastern Kentucky University.
In 2009, Evans was a finalist in the National Geographic Hands-On Explorer Teacher Challenge Awards program. She was nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching and was a Fund for Teachers 2009 Summer Sabbatical (Egypt) recipient.
Evans’ professional affiliations include the National Middle School Association; National and Kentucky Science Teachers associations; and the National and Kentucky Education associations.
This is the ninth year Ashland Inc. and the Kentucky Department of Education has co-sponsored the Kentucky Teacher Achievement Awards.