LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Of the nine semi-finalists for Kentucky's 2019 teacher of the year, three of them were from WAVE Country schools.
It was a room full of excitement, and some tears, as the best and brightest of Kentucky's teachers were honored in Frankfort Tuesday morning, as the winners were announced.
NyRee D. Clayton-Taylor, a creative writing teacher at Wheatley Elementary School in Jefferson County took home $3,000 along with the award for Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
Clayton-Taylor has gained popularity through her implementation of hip-hop based literacy. She's found a way to tap into the student population at her school.
"Being that I work at Phillis Wheatley, a high needs school, it means a lot," Clayton-Taylor said. "It means that we can go into our communities, we can help our students and help them achieve. We want to believe that they can, because they are the ones."
10-year teaching veteran Jessica Dueñas is teaching special education classes at Oldham Middle School and now is Kentucky's 2019 teacher of the year.
She plans to use her $10,000 award money for her classroom and future students.
"This award is my life," Dueñas said. "All I do is pay it forward. I was born to pay it forward. Because of teachers, I was able to overcome barriers that my parents didn't have the resources to take care of for me."
Dueñas will submit her application for the national teacher of the year competition in the fall.