Lily Russell, a student at Ignite Institute (Boone County), speaks at the 2024 Educators Rising Kentucky State Conference. (Joe Ragusa, KY Dept. of Edu., 03/06/24)

Record Number of Students Participate in March 2024 Educators Rising Kentucky Conference

FRANKFORT, KY – A record number of 771 high school students attended the 2024 Educators Rising Kentucky State Conference, held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville on March 6.

The students, representing 53 different schools within 33 Kentucky school districts, learned about the education field during breakout sessions with educators and experts in the industry. They also competed in 27 different events that touched on several areas of teaching, including lesson planning, public speaking and developing children’s literature.

“Hosting this event and watching it grow each year encourages me to believe that the future of our profession is in wonderful hands,” said Elly Gilbert, assistant director of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Division of Educator Recruitment and Development. “The enthusiasm and joy for teaching that I witnessed inspires me and challenges me to keep pushing for the best resources and support for teachers of this and future generations.”

Educators Rising Kentucky is the career and technical student organization for middle and high school students interested in education-related careers.

Beginning in high school, Educators Rising provides young people with hands-on teaching experience. The groups help sustain student interest in the profession and help them cultivate the skills they need to be successful educators.

Kira Wicker, a sophomore at Ballard High School (Jefferson County), competed in the children’s literature category with a book designed to help special education students learn empathy and social cues.

“We just wanted to lay down a foundation for those more-difficult social and emotional skills,” she said.

She said her motivation to get into the education field comes from wanting to help students who come from challenging backgrounds, and Educators Rising has provided the opportunity to bolster her credentials as she prepares for college and beyond.

Her classmate and fellow sophomore at Ballard, Alyssa Pollard, competed in the Educators Rising Moment event, where students prepare a speech about why they want to become a teacher. Her motivation was similar: to help students with difficult backgrounds or developmental issues.

“The reason I actually did a speech is because I kind of wanted to push myself and get out of my comfort zone and start doing more public speaking,” said Pollard, “and I feel like I had a really good story to tell about why I wanted to be a teacher.”

Colin Anderson, a junior at Franklin-Simpson High School (Simpson County) and member of the Western Kentucky University Young Male Leadership Academy, was part of a group that participated in the public service announcement (PSA) competition, where the students devised a PSA to recruit teachers. He said Educators Rising has helped him with his public speaking to pursue his goals after high school.

“You can sit up there in front of people that you don’t know and talk to them and use all the basic skills you’ve been taught over the years,” he said. “Everybody says the practice will help you out, and I’ve practiced a lot and I’m saying it’s helped me a whole lot.”

Treshawn Crenshaw, a sophomore at Christian County High School, participated in the job interview competition, learning skills that will ultimately help him enter the teaching profession.

“I want to be a teacher to impact little kids; impact any age kids in the community, just to help them by giving them a male role model because there’s not a lot of male teachers in Kentucky,” he said.

Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney said it has been encouraging to see the Educators Rising Kentucky program grow so much.

“There is no question Kentucky and many other states have a shortage of teachers right now, and seeing so many young students have such strong motivation to enter the field gives me hope for the future of our children in the Commonwealth,” said Kinney.

Kinney spoke during the event’s closing ceremony, along with 2024 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Kevin Dailey and Roger Cleveland, director of faculty development and diversity initiatives at Eastern Kentucky University. Kentucky First Lady Britainy Beshear spoke during the opening ceremony.


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