Story by Michelle Hawks, Contributing writer
Jacqueline Hansen, chair of the early childhood and elementary education department, was named College Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts (KCTE).
Hansen, who has worked at Murray State since 2000, said the award was a complete surprise. She said though she doesn’t know who nominated her for the award, she is very humbled and grateful to receive the honor.
She also said the award is also a reflection of what she calls “the team” of professors within the department.
According to KCTE, a teacher from each level—elementary, middle school, high school and college—is selected annually. These teachers must “have a passion for English education and demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond in the classroom.”
David Whaley, dean of the College of Education, said Hansen was “very deserving” of the award. He said the award is about her work with the Kentucky Reading Project and the work she does with literacy, which is something KCTE focuses on.
According to its website, the Kentucky Reading Project, a professional development initiative of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, is a two-week summer institute in which current elementary school teachers are trained in the latest strategies in teaching students how to read, write and communicate effectively. There are four follow-up sessions during the year and at least one coaching visit to each teacher.
Hansen is the director of the Kentucky Reading Project for Murray State and co-teaches the program with Christina Grant, a assistant professor of elementary education, and Holly Bloodworth, a teacher at Murray Elementary School. Bloodworth was named Kentucky Teacher of the Year in 2014.
“I’ve been really focused on developing children’s literacy,” Hansen said. “I think since birth.”
Part of Hansen’s—and KCTE’s—mission is to expand and promote literacy across all subject areas, not just in reading and writing.
Hansen, who began her career in education as an elementary school teacher, said she came to the collegiate level in hopes of inspiring people to love teaching as much as she does.
“I think the children in America deserve nothing less than the best prepared teachers we could possibly have,” Hansen said. “Life’s just too short, and their time is just too precious.”
She said it’s important for teachers to not only grow the minds of children but also a belief in themselves, so that they can become positive members of society.
“I do believe that if you can help one child on their life journey, you’ve done really well,” Hansen said.
She will receive the award at the 2017 KCTE Conference in late February.