Mandy Perez, a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Crittenden County Middle School in Marion, Kentucky, has been awarded the prestigious title of 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. Her remarkable dedication to fostering a love for reading and nurturing her students has earned her this well-deserved recognition.
Reflecting on the significance of educators, Governor Andy Beshear acknowledges, “We value how important your job is. By helping a child discover a love of reading or helping them realize their talents as an artist, as a leader, or whatever path they discover, you’re doing more than teaching a subject; you’re changing lives.” This sentiment perfectly encapsulates the profound impact Mandy Perez has had on her students.
The Kentucky Teacher of the Year’s passion for teaching was evident from an early age. As a child, she would eagerly collect extra worksheets from her elementary school teachers to play school with her younger sister during the summertime. Her unwavering dedication to learning and working with children has remained a driving force throughout her life. Perez states, “I never stop learning, and I love working with children. It’s my passion in life.”
Her journey as an educator has been shaped by her own experiences and the invaluable support of her family. Being the first in her family to graduate from college, Perez understands the significance of hard work and perseverance. She credits her family as her biggest support system, always being there for her through both triumphs and challenges.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a Master of Education with an emphasis in guidance and counseling from Murray State University, Mandy Perez has dedicated 18 years to teaching in Crittenden County Schools. Currently, she imparts her knowledge and enthusiasm to sixth-grade students at Crittenden County Middle School, where she teaches English and language arts.
What sets Perez apart is her unwavering commitment to fostering a love for reading among her students. She believes that stories hold immense power as teaching tools, imparting valuable lessons on culture, kindness, acceptance, and resilience. Perez’s innovative approach includes the implementation of “First Chapter Friday,” where students explore the beginning of a new book and record their thoughts. This practice has ignited genuine excitement and a deep love for reading among her students.
As the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Mandy Perez aims to use her platform to inspire students to embrace the joy of reading. She firmly believes that instilling a passion for reading is a transformative experience. Perez states, “The power that lies behind getting kids excited for reading is truly magical. It warms my heart.”
With her dedication, passion, and ability to change lives, Mandy Perez exemplifies the qualities of an exceptional teacher. Her unwavering commitment to her students’ growth and her belief in their potential make her an invaluable asset to the educational community. As she continues her journey as the Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Perez’s impact will undoubtedly continue to shape the lives of countless students.