By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
After being named Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year for 2013, Kristal Doolin said the heady feeling of winning the award last Wednesday hasn’t hit her yet.
But when it does, the 7th grade Language Arts teacher at Corbin Middle School will have a busy schedule for the next year. And not just in the classroom.
Doolin will go on to compete in the National Teacher of the Year Program, or NTOY. If she’s chosen this December as one of four finalists from across the country, she’ll be interviewed in Washington, D. C. in February of next year. Next April, the National Teacher will be introduced to the nation by the President of the United States, and will be honored at events in the Nation’s Capital.
To take the first steps on entering the contest, Doolin did her homework.
“I’ve got to get on that application this weekend. I have to submit an application to the KDE (Kentucky Department of Education), and they’ll send it to the U. S. Department of Education. It has to be in Washington by November 1st,” Doolin said during a classroom interview last Friday.
In addition, Doolin will be racking up some frequent flier miles by representing Kentucky as our state’s Teacher of the Year as some nationwide functions.
“It’s part of the National Teacher of the Year Program. I’m going to Arizona in January. And I’ll be in some other places next year, like New York and St. Louis. It’ll be a busy time.”
By being Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year, Doolin pointed out she has the opportunity to take a year’s sabbatical from teaching, provided by the state Department of Education. But aside from taking some of those planned trips, she’ll stay in the classroom at Corbin Middle.
“I’m not going to leave my kids,” she noted.
The National Teacher of the Year Program started in 1952, and is conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers, or CCSSO. It’s the oldest, most prestigious national honors program which focuses public attention on teaching excellence. The National Teacher of the Year is chosen from among State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing major national education organizations, such as the National Education Association, the National PTA, the National Middle School Association, and the National School Boards Association.
At the national level, each State Teacher of the Year submits a written application which contains biographical and professional information, letters of endorsement, and eight essays on topics ranging from their personal teaching philosophy to issues facing education. In early December, the National Selection Committee meets to choose four finalists from the nominations received. Following personal interviews with the finalists in Washington in late February, the committee will select the National Teacher of the Year, who will be announced next April.
Doolin has a lot of support to go the distance — just like she did last Wednesday in Frankfort, when she was named Kentucky’s 2013 Teacher of the Year, co-sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland, Inc.
She, her husband Terry and their daughter Tara made the trip, along with her parents and two sisters — who are both teachers. Also at the ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda were Corbin Middle School Principal Ramona Davis, and Ed McNeel, superintendent of the Corbin Independent Schools.
“When I heard my name mentioned I was shaking. They gave the trophies and checks to the Elementary Teacher of the Year first, then the High School Teacher of the Year. When that happened, the other two teachers hugged me and one of them said, ‘You did it.’ And I started to cry. After that, I had to make a speech at a luncheon,” said a smiling Doolin.
Very proud of winning the award, Doolin added the experience, while humbling, has been beyond words.
“It’s still very surreal, winning the state honor. I’ve been congratulated by a whole lot of people the last two days. The students, teachers and staff here have been awesome. And even in Frankfort, the 24 teachers who got the Ashland Teacher Achievement Awards congratulated me. They were very sweet,” she pointed out.
“The whole ceremony was just amazing. Kristal works very, very hard. She’s one of the last teachers to leave the school, and she’s always looking for vast resources to help students, not only in her classroom, but with her co-workers. She’s amazing. She’s very good,” said Davis in an interview Friday.
McNeel agreed. In a phone interview Thursday, he commented about Doolin, “It really is a great accomplishment for her. She’s a superb teacher who takes her students to new levels of learning and achievement. She’s the real deal.”