By By Jody Norwood firstname.lastname@example.org
A local teacher is still in a bit of shock after being chosen as one of the state's best educators.
Lyon County High School business teacher Amy Argo said she was notified of her nomination as a 2018 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Awards months ago, but only recently found out she was one of 24 teachers from across Kentucky to be named a semi-finalist.
Argo is the only western Kentucky teacher to make the semi-final round this year.
"I don't even know what to think at this moment," Argo said. "About two months ago, I received a notice of my nomination. I was so humbled and honored at just the nomination. I had honestly forgotten about it until I received a letter in the mail last Thursday informing me that I was a semiifinalist. The letter asked me to keep the information confidential. That same afternoon, I was eating out with my family and received a text from a friend with a picture of Channel 6 news! Within an hour, I had congratulatory notices via text, calls, e-mails, and social media.
"It is quite overwhelming."
Eight teachers are recognized in elementary, middle and high school divisions.
All 24 teachers will be honored at a ceremony on May 16 in the State Capitol Building in Frankfort, including winners for each division.
From those three finalists, the Kentucky Teacher of the Year will be named to represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
According to Argo, the Kentucky Teacher of the Year award recognizes teachers based on teaching philosophies, teaching experiences, community involvement, and recommendations through process of application, site visits, and interviews.
"Oddly enough, teaching was not what I set out to do with my life," Argo said. "But sometimes our selfish plans aren't aligned with God's plan for us. Teaching is my calling -- it just took me a while to realize that.
"There are over 40,000 public school teachers in Kentucky. The honor of being nominated and selected as a top-24 semifinalist is very humbling."
According to a release by the Kentucky Department of Education, Valvoline will present the 24 Teacher Achievement Award recipients with cash awards and certificates at the awards ceremony, along with commemorative glassware.
Judging was conducted in March by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators commissioned by Valvoline and the Kentucky Department of Education, many of whom have more than 25 years of teaching experience.
Applications included information on the nominees' teaching philosophies, teaching experiences and involvement in their respective communities, as well as letters of recommendation from peers, students, parents, administrators and others.
Despite being one of the state's smallest districts -- both in terms of enrollments and funding per pupil -- Lyon County has been a top performer in recent years.
Superintendent Russ Tilford said Argo and teachers like her are paramount to that success.
"Mrs. Argo is very deserving of this recognition," Tilford said. "She is a wonderful teacher that exemplifies the outstanding work by the teachers and staff of Lyon County Schools."