The furthest thing from the minds of teachers Kathy Carver and Kelly Gates was being recognized for doing what they love.

The Hopkins County School district instructors say they were focused on making a change in their students’ lives and building their kids’ love for learning when they received two separate awards for furthering education.

Carver, the middle and high school gifted and talented resource teacher, received the Kentucky Association of Gifted Education award for service advocacy, while Kelly Gates, a fifth-grade teacher at Pride Elementary, received the National Excellence in Teaching award for agriculture.

Both said they were surprised and honored when they found out they had won the respective awards.

Carver works with each gifted coordinator at the six middle and high schools in the county. She trains teachers and mentors other gifted and talented personnel from other districts.

When COVID-19 hit the schools, she created a Google GT classroom for all of her middle and high school gifted and talented students.

“I felt like I had things to share with them, little things to help them, and just set up another way of communicating,” said Carver, who hopes the award will shine a light on the gifted and talented students. Carver feels they can sometimes be overlooked because they pick up on things faster.

Carver said she was honored because there are a lot of gifted educators in the state. Carver said the recognition serves as a thank you.

While Carver works across several schools, Gates sticks to Pride Elementary, where she works to pull agriculture into her student’s other classes so they can learn where the things around them come from.

“I think it is relevant, more than ever, that our students realize everything they have in their life — whether it be their food or what their clothing is made from — can be traced back to their sources,” she said.

Gates has written grants to create the Courtyard of Curiosity, where students have a garden to learn where their food comes from. Gates has also incorporated agriculture into the students’ reading, math and science classes.

“Today’s children are so exposed to technology, they are not outdoors and connecting with their environment,” she said.

Gates said the award was a prestigious, but unexpected honor.

“You do activities out of a place of enjoyment with students. Teaching them about nature, the environment and how agriculture is embedded in everything around them,” she said. “It has just been a tremendous honor to feel like your work is valued on a grander scale.”

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