Jennifer McFadden, a social studies teacher at Daviess County Middle School, has been selected as one of 24 Kentucky educators to receive the 2020 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award. She now advances in competition for the 2020 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced next month.
Judging was conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators and was based on review of nominees’ teaching philosophies, teaching experiences, community involvement and letters of recommendation from administrators, colleagues, students and parents.
McFadden will be honored during a May 20 ceremony in Frankfort. Gov. Matt Bevin, government officials and Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of Valvoline, will honor McFadden and other award recipients. From this field of 24 honorees, Kentucky Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year will be selected. Those three finalists will be considered for Kentucky Teacher of the Year honors; and that person will represent the state in the national Teacher of the Year competition.
McFadden was named Daviess County Public Schools “Kids First” Middle School Teacher of the Year in August 2018. She is also a recipient of the Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching Award.
McFadden serves as faculty leader of the DCMS Social Studies Professional Learning Community and has presented at the National Council for Social Studies conference on historical museums. She is a Level 1 certified Google Educator who demonstrates a strong commitment to embracing professional learning and growth in order to challenge herself and her students to the highest levels of excellence.
DCPS Superintendent Matt Robbins said McFadden exemplifies the district’s commitment of putting “Kids First.” “Jennifer McFadden is an exemplary teacher who brings learning to life for her students,” Robbins said. “She is an outstanding example of what teaching and learning are all about, not just in the classroom, but in life.”
DCMS Principal Kelly Skeens said, “Jennifer McFadden’s classroom is a cognitively busy place where students use various learning styles to demonstrate their learning. She seeks to incorporate innovative lessons each year that are of high interest to students. She made a CSI-type preview video using a template from iMovie to introduce and hook students for a lesson about Julius Caesar.”
Ashley Collins, who teaches Spanish at DCMS, said McFadden is an inspiration to her colleagues. Collins described the many ways in which McFadden exemplifies the ideals of an excellent teacher as identified by the DCPS district, including being a team player, student-centered, having a strong knowledge of content, developing positive relationships, having a growth mindset and being passionate about teaching and learning. “Jennifer gives up her planning period to host ‘Lunch ’n’ Learn’ sessions so students can reassess until they master concepts,” Collins said. “She volunteered to host ESS (exceptional student services) in her room every day so that kids were not confused about where to go. Team teachers take turns being there, but Jennifer freely sacrificed her quiet morning time before school for the benefit of kids. As a teacher, she is constantly striving to learn more and create engaging lessons by using her own money to purchase lessons and resources.”
Perhaps no testimony is more meaningful than that of former student Rebecca Volk: “Ms. McFadden communicates high expectations and is consistent with discipline. This allows students to understand exactly what is expected of them and how to achieve it. She incorporates creativity and interactive activities in her classroom. Students are asked to write reflectively, often on quotes pertaining to social studies or simply life in general. When classes involved lectures, she always made it interesting with anecdotes and comparisons so that we wanted to listen to what she was teaching. In Ms. McFadden’s class, I learned about ancient history (Greek, Roman, Mesopotamia, etc.). It is not often that students recall such experiences from their middle school experience, but Ms. McFadden’s class was that memorable. I always felt as though she cared about me personally, both in and out of the classroom. She will forever be one of my favorite teachers of all time.”
McFadden was humble in acknowledging this significant state-level recognition and was quick to give credit to others. “It truly takes a village to be an educator and I am blessed to work with some outstanding teachers and staff each and every day,” she said.
McFadden said the teaching professional is one of the most honorable and that she considers it a privilege to serve as an educator. “Every student sitting in classrooms across Kentucky and our nation should have our very best efforts in providing them with the skills, knowledge and support they deserve,” she said.