The Kentucky Public Education System made me who I am. I come from two hard-working parents who divorced when I was 7, my brother 13, and after that, life got hard on everyone financially. I am one of those kids that could not have afforded a Private or a Charter School. On paper, our working-class income would not have awarded me or my brother a “waiver” for tuition — and we definitely would not have been the “ideal” students whose family could make generous contributions. What kind of education would we have received if it was not for Kentucky Public Schools?
My brother and I both began our educational journey at Inez Elementary School — taught and guided by some of the most amazing ladies I know. I am thankful for Mrs. Ida Smith, Mrs. Teresia Crum, and countless others for laying such a strong foundation. I owe it to Inez Elementary for giving me a love of learning — I haven’t stopped.
I like to think Middle School was/is awkward for everyone and I wasn’t immune — but I had an artistic side, an out-of-the-box learning style. I will never forget Mr. Mark Grayson and Mr. Rick Osborne for nurturing, appreciating, and accepting me for my lack of sameness. They taught me it was okay to have an identity.
And my fine educators at Sheldon Clark High School — most retired, a few passed on, and some still going to bat for their students every single day — I owe them everything. Mrs. Carolyn Bentley is responsible for every ounce of literary knowledge in my brain, because I just could not tell a story in order to save my life. She is the sole reason so many people compliment my articles for being “beautifully written” (and the reason I’ve edited this article twice already!) I cannot forget the late Mrs. Sylvia Six, whom I miss every single day — she was this freshman’s biggest cheerleader… and Mrs. Pat Sluss — I wish I had told her before she passed that she introduced me to my favorite book and that I haven’t stopped reading since. Finally, Mr. Freddie Napier — who had the patience of Job when teaching me how to do Math: I am thankful for him because I get to apply those skills he taught me every single day to students in my own school district — and change their path for the better the way they changed mine.
Today my husband and I work in one of the greatest school systems in the state: Johnson County. We are home to international academic champions and some of the finest educators you can find. He and I, and our colleagues, go beyond the call of duty every single day. We have kids in college that are not biologically ours that still look for our guidance. One in particular refers to us as her “second parents.” That’s because we love her beyond the confines of standards, tests, and books, Mr. Bevin.
You see, Governor, children from all walks of life have a story. Much like me, their teachers are often chapters in their novel of life — and I hope I am putting countless chapters in the books of this generation.
Mr. Governor, you may look and see selfish, lazy, uninformed, short-sighted — but you have never experienced what they do on a personal level. Because of that, you will never value our educators. You can take away, insult, belittle, do whatever you wish — but your position is the least permanent of us all. After you’re gone, it will only be us rebuilding — trying to erase the bad memories of a man who tried to dismantle one of our state’s most precious resources.
So here I am, Matt Bevin, loudly and proudly supporting the Kentucky Public Education System — because everyone has a favorite teacher — nobody has a favorite Governor.