The 2020 Award Winners Recognized at the Annual Conference:
Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Robin Burr, Berea Community Schools.
Robin has taught for twenty years in Kentucky and in five different states. Her passion is changing the direction of schools of poverty with an emphasis on at-risk girls. Robin is currently working at Berea Community Schools and is a fifth-grade math teacher who knows literacy is as important in math as it is in Language Arts. Her future goals are to complete my Ph.D. in STEM education and begin a school for at-risk girls from Appalachia.
Middle School Teacher of the Year: Jennifer Csolkovits, Walton-Verona Middle School
Having attended Morehead State University for an elementary education degree, Jennifer quickly began her career at Paris Independent. She furthered her education by completing a Masters of Arts in Teaching with an English component and has been teaching for almost 10 years now. After marrying her husband, Jennifer taught collaboratively and the advanced students at Campbell County Middle School before accepting the 8th-grade writing teacher position at Walton-Verona Independent Schools. Jennifer’s goal every day is to encourage every student to be the best version of themselves daily.
High School Teacher of the Year: Victoria Leibeck-Owsley, Adair County High School
Victoria Leibeck-Owsley is a High School English Teacher at Adair County High School in Columbia Kentucky. She is a graduate of Berea College and Western Kentucky University and teaches AP Language and Composition and English II while coaching Academic Team, sponsoring her school’s first chapter of the National English Honor Society, and serving as the Adair County Education Association Secretary. Victoria was also a quarterfinalist in the 2019 Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament.
College Teacher of the Year: Dr. Sara Cooper, Murray State University
Sara Cooper is an Assistant Professor of English at Murray State University, where she teaches graduate courses in the Doctor of Arts in English Pedagogy program. Her teaching and research focus on disrupting binaries—between form and formula, convention and invention, scholarly and creative work—in secondary and postsecondary contexts toward increased rhetorical agency for student writers, especially those belonging to marginalized groups. She has mentored K-12 teachers around the country in multiple academic and community contexts. She is also the proud mama of the world’s most fabulous four-year-old.
Administrator of the Year: Zachary Ashley, Beechwood Independent
This is my 16th year in public education. I was an English teacher for 9 years and 2019-2020 is my 7th in administration. I have been the principal at Beechwood Elementary for 5 years, and I believe we are working to do so much good for every student that walks through our doors, every day. It is a great joy and honor to serve students and the community by preparing future generations to be successful in all that they do. I love Jesus, my wife Danielle, my six children, and making a positive difference in as many people as possible.
Gretchen Niva Service Award: Jean Wolph, University of Louisville & Louisville Writing Project
Jean began teaching in 1971 at Fairdale High in Louisville, moving later to Oldham County Middle and then to the University of Louisville as an adjunct where she fell under the spell of Dr. Marjorie Kaiser and was eventually recruited to direct the Louisville Writing Project in 1998 and will soon mark her 22nd year in that position. Jean has served on various National Writing Project leadership teams, currently on the College, Career & Community Writing Program (C3WP), which has received two federal i3 grants (Investing in Innovation) to work across the country to improve the teaching and writing of argument. She currently oversees a 3-year grant to work in 8 Kentucky districts to improve teacher capacity to teach argument writing. She has 3 sons, 5 grandchildren, and a love for gardening and cooking and, of course, writing.
Stephanie Kirk Classroom Grant: Amanda Klare, Beechwood Independent; Student-Led Podcasting