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North Park teachers receive Classroom of Excellence awards

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By Kelly Cantrall

Classes of Excellence

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Creekside Elementary School - Samantha Hart, Sanya Darby and Vicki York

G.C. Burkhead Elementary School - Zola Walker, Doris Acob, Missy Hill and Justin Hornback

Heartland Elementary School - Maryjane Boes, Stephanie Swift and Debbie Wells

New Highland Elementary School - Joan Hill, Sherri Neese and Brenda King

North Park Elementary School - Lori Allen, Brenda Clark and Karen Stiff

North Park Elementary School - Emily Wilcoxson, Tammy Rice, Lakeita Parmes and Tammy Rice

Preschool programs in Hardin County Schools continue to represent “excellence” across the state.

Lori Allen and Emily Wilcoxson, preschool teachers at North Park Elementary School, and their assistants received Classrooms of Excellence distinctions awarded by the Kentucky Department of Education. Allen and Wilcoxson are the fifth and sixth recipients of the award in Hardin County Schools.

The process to be named a Classroom of Excellence is an extensive one, which includes classroom visits by state officials and in-depth self-analysis of teaching practices.

The teachers learned about the opportunity at a professional development session and decided to embark on the project together at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. Both wanted an opportunity to evaluate their methods.

“My goal really was to be a better teacher,” Allen said.

The process asks educators to reflect on lessons, how they handle behaviors and set up classrooms. The entire team, teachers and assistants, are evaluated. The self-study alone was about 70 pages, Allen said.

“It was very detailed,” Wilcoxson said of the process. “They look at everything.”

Wilcoxson said the process gave her a deeper understanding of preschool regulations, as well as educational standards for children birth through age 3 and kindergarten. Becoming more familiar with those standards allowed her to focus on each student’s needs.

“It really helps you differentiate your instruction,” she said.

For Allen, the process made her consider why she first entered the profession.

“I can see now why I became a preschool teacher,” she said.

The two teams will be recognized at a ceremony at 9 a.m. Feb. 4 at North Park Elementary School.

There are a few dozen recipients of the Classroom of Excellence distinction in Kentucky. Allen and Wilcoxson give credit to the early childhood program at HCS. Wilcoxson said the staff ensures teachers have many of the requirements for the award already in place.

“I think it just kind of reflects the quality of our program,” Allen said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@

thenewsenterprise.com.