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WCHS Teacher Jared Criswell among Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award recipients for 2021

Teacher of the Year graphic

The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc. have selected 24 outstanding Kentucky educators as recipients of the 2021 Valvoline™ Teacher Achievement Awards (TAA), including a Wayne County High School teacher. These teachers qualify to compete for the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award which will be announced in October.

“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 will be 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 has 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 will be honored at a yet-to-be finalized event in the fall. 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. 


About Valvoline™

Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which time it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume. It operates and franchises approximately 1,400 quick-lube locations, and it is the No. 2 chain by number of stores in the United States under the Valvoline Instant Oil ChangeSM brand and the No. 3 chain by number of stores in Canada under the Valvoline Great Canadian Oil Change brand. It also markets Valvoline lubricants and automotive chemicals, including the Valvoline High Mileage with MaxLife technology motor oil for engines over 75,000 miles; Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic motor oil; Valvoline Premium Blue™ heavy-duty motor oil; Valvoline Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid; and Zerex™ antifreeze. To learn more, visit


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