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Crittenden County educator named Kentucky Teacher of the Year

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Jacob Perkins
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Kentucky Teacher of the Year Mandy Perez reacted Tuesday to winning the award.

A middle school educator from Crittenden County is Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year for 2023.

Mandy Perez was honored on Tuesday in a ceremony at the State Capitol. She teaches English and Language Arts at Crittenden County Middle School.

Perez, who has been in the classroom 18 years, called teaching the best profession in the world.

“It’s tough, and there are a lot of days where you don’t know if you can go back in and do it again, but we do every single day, and what we do matters," Perez said.

Perez was also named Kentucky’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. The elementary school award went to Kelly Gates, who teaches at Pride Elementary in Hopkins County. Amber Sergent of Woodford County was named the state’s High School Teacher of the Year.

The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline co-sponsor of the award. The Teacher of the Year won a $10,000 cash award, while the Elementary and High School Teachers of the Year both received $3,000.

Gov. Andy Beshear told the educators their roles include much more than teaching subject matter.

"You’re changing lives. You’re building up lives. You’re breaking cycles of poverty," said Beshear. "You’re helping kids, at sometimes their most vulnerable time, you’re helping them get services they need. The way you care is pretty incredible."

Beshear also used the ceremony to press state lawmakers to restore pensions for newly hired teachers and approve universal preschool.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.