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WCHS Teacher Jared Criswell among Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award recipients for virtual ceremony October 22!

Valvoline Graphic

Graphic: Live on YouTube, 20201 Kentucky Teacher Awards and Teacher of the Year announcement, 10:30 a.m. ET, Oct. 22


KDE to stream 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year ceremony on Oct. 22

(FRANKFORT, KY) – The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will stream the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year ceremony 10:30 a.m. ET this Thursday to honor some of the state's best teachers, including Wayne County High School Teacher Jared Criswell. The event can be watched live on the KDE Media Portal.

Now in its 20th year, the awards program combines the Kentucky Teacher of the Year Program and Valvoline’s Teacher Achievement Awards, formerly the Ashland Teacher Achievement Awards.

The event will be co-hosted by Kentucky's Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass and Valvoline's Chief Executive Officer Sam Mitchell. Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman also will attend the ceremony in Lexington.

More than 2,500 teacher nominations were received for the Kentucky Teacher of the Year program and 209 applications were completed, a new record. In May, a committee of judges made up of highly respected educators from throughout Kentucky reviewed and scored each application.

The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc., a co-sponsor of the program, selected 24 outstanding Kentucky educators as recipients of the 2021 Valvoline™ Teacher Achievement Awards in July. Nine outstanding teachers from across the state – three elementary, three middle and four high school – were named as semifinalists on Sept. 1.

Winners of the elementary, middle and high school Teacher of the Year awards, in addition to the overall 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, will be announced during the virtual ceremony.

Valvoline will present the 24 recipients of the Teacher Achievement Award with a cash award and certificate. The three Kentucky Teachers of the Year also will receive custom-designed glassware commemorating their accomplishments.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time KDE will hold the ceremony virtually and livestream it. 

"Although we are unable to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of these teachers in person, we have an incredible virtual ceremony planned with a few surprises," Glass said. "These award-winning educators represent more than 42,000 of their colleagues who are doing anything and everything to serve their students and ensure continued learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank all Kentucky teachers for their outstanding efforts during these challenging times.”


Congrats to one of Wayne County Schools' "Best" (Taken from previous article)

Congratulations to Jared Criswell on being one of the  2021 Kentucky Teacher Awards recipients. The 24 honored teachers are being recognized during a virtual ceremony to be held at 10:30 a.m. ET, Thursday, October 22. Along with the 24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners, the Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc. will be announcing the 2021 Elementary, Middle School and High School Teachers of the Year, and the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

To watch Thursday’s ceremony or to share it with your students, staff, teachers and community, please go to the KDE Media Portal at: and click on the ceremony. You may share this link at any time, but it will not be live until 10:30 a.m. ET, Thursday, October 22.

“Now more than ever before, we are honored to celebrate some of Kentucky’s most outstanding educators,” said Sam Mitchell, Valvoline chief executive officer. “Being a teacher is incredibly challenging during normal times. In today’s anything-but-normal environment, many of us have become all-to-familiar with the incredible role our teachers play. Valvoline is pleased to celebrate educators across the state and to recognize these outstanding award winners.”

Wayne County Schools are very honored to make the local announcement on behalf of one of their teachers. Wayne County High School Teacher Jared Criswell, who serves as the Department Chair for English, is one of the eight recipients of the achievement awards at the high school level for the state of Kentucky.

"Mr. Criswell is an amazing educator that demands the best from his students.  He is also a great leader in our school.  He’s not afraid of a challenge or trying new things.  Students that have him for Advanced Placement courses routinely excel on the AP test far above state and national results.  It is no surprise to me for him to be named to such an exclusive award, and it is very well deserved," said Wayne County High School Principal Justin Alley.

Criswell has been a very innovative teacher and contributed to the course offerings and extra-curricular activities during the past ten years at Wayne County High School. He has taught a variety of English classes, designed new courses, and made a significant impact on improving student learning.

This year he is teaching three sections of English III, AP English Language and Composition, ENG 111 and ENG 112 dual credit through Campbellsville. In addition, students have particularly enjoyed attending his Creative Writing, Drama and Horror Fiction classes that he has customized in the past.

The Wayne County High School English Department Chairperson is the founder of the Writing Center, where student mentors help other students with their writing skills. Since it will not be utilized as much this year due to the pandemic, he hopes to expand on that in the future.

“I'm always looking forward to teaching new things and continuing to find ways to offer higher-level options for students.  I'm really proud of Emily Combs, for example, because she has taken every English course we offer to the point I'm teaching ENG 210 on an independent basis just for her: it will be the highest level English course ever taught here, and she will leave here with nine college credit hours in English,” said Jared Criswell. “To me, that's awesome.”

“I've coached Academic Team for my whole career, and we keep improving a little bit at a time. Our district is pretty competitive so it's a struggle,” said Criswell. He has also worked hard to expand the membership and increase activities in his role as the Beta Club advisor. One of his proudest accomplishments has been working with the On Demand scrimmages. Several years ago, he began writing On Demand questions for each grade level. He grades all of the On Demand responses for the high school, to help determine where gaps might be at each grade level.

Not surprisingly, Criswell was a recipient of the Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching Award. He has a Master's in Education from the University of the Cumberland’s.In December, he graduated from Morehead State with a Master's in English Literature, making him a Rank 1 educator. The local Wayne County High School 2006 graduate attended Lindsey Wilson College, graduating in 2010.

Criswell had also been a contributing columnist for the Wayne County Outlook over the past few years.

On a personal note, he and his wife Taylor are expecting a baby, Scotlyn Louise Criswell, in December, which will no doubt rank at the top of his priorities.

Criswell is in good company with the following winning teachers:    

Elementary School

  • Stephanie Groathouse, New Haven Elementary (Boone County)
  • Toni Mullins, Carr Creek Elementary (Knott County)
  • Samuel Northern, Simpson Elementary (Simpson County)
  • Johanna Parr, Klondike Lane Elementary (Jefferson County)
  • Donnie Piercey, Stonewall Elementary (Fayette County)
  • Noraa Ransey, North Calloway Elementary (Calloway County)
  • Amanda White, Charles Straub Elementary (Mason County)
  • Donnie Wilkerson, Jamestown Elementary (Russell County)

    Middle School

  • Timothy Franklin, Paducah Middle (Paducah Independent)
  • Amy Harlan, Garrard Middle (Garrard County)
  • Laura Murphy, Daviess County Middle
  • Laura Peavley, Westport Middle (Jefferson County)
  • Steffanie Skiles, McKell Middle (Greenup County)
  • Jeannette Teater, The Providence School (Jessamine County)
  • April Turpin, W.B. Muncy Elementary (Leslie County)
  • Tia Wood, Ballyshannon Middle (Boone County)

    High School

  • Jeremy Byrn, Allen County-Scottsville High (Allen County)
  • Jared Criswell, Wayne County High
  • Lori Knapp-Lindsay, Boone County Ignite Academy
  • Christopher McCurry, Lafayette High (Fayette County)
  • Scott Osborn, Lawrence County High
  • Mary Slone, Floyd Central High (Floyd County)
  • Scott Wade, Newcomer Academy (Jefferson County)
  • Ashley Woodruff, McCracken County High

All 24 teachers are being honored Thursday, October 22 through a virtual ceremony. At that time the Kentucky Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year will be announced. From this group of three finalists, the Kentucky Teacher of the Year will be named and will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Valvoline will provide the 24 recipients with cash awards. In addition, the three Kentucky Teachers of the Year will receive custom-designed glassware commemorating their accomplishments.This year’s program set a record with more than 2,800 nominations and 208 applications submitted. 

Judging was conducted in May by a blue-ribbon panel of veteran educators, 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.

"Now perhaps more than ever before have we seen how essential teachers are to the lives of our children. Teachers are heroes,” said Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. “On behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, I congratulate these award-winning educators. They have adapted not only their teaching styles and curriculum to serve their students during this pandemic, but they also have served on the front line, ensuring their students are safe, secure and well fed.”

Valvoline, an independent, publicly traded company with its world headquarters in Lexington, is a proud sponsor of the Teacher Achievement Awards and the Kentucky Teacher of the Year programs.


Jared's Letter from National Society of High School Scholars



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