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FCEA chooses Winburn math teacher as outstanding educator for 2020

Valerie Hairston The 2020 FCEA Award for Teaching Excellence goes to Valerie Hairston, a seventh grade math teacher at Winburn Middle School. “I try to structure the learning environment in my classroom to be inviting and engaging for students. We take time to get to know one another to make learning more enjoyable for everyone,” Hairston said. “I see myself as more of a facilitator who is there to help them discover how to relate math to the world around them. Often students find I challenge them more than they like. However, if they do what I ask, they usually surprise themselves with what they are capable of learning.” 

Hairston, who has taught a total of seven years at Winburn, is the Math Department chair, seventh grade co-team leader, and a Math Lighthouse teacher. She also serves on the SBDM Council. She previously taught two years at SCAPA at Bluegrass, two at Bryan Station Middle, 3½ years at Lexington Christian Academy, and one year in Clark County schools. She also substituted in Fayette County Public Schools while completing her master’s in Education at Georgetown College in 2009. Hairston also earned her Rank I there in 2015 in Teacher Leadership and P-12 Technology Endorsement.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Hairston received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science from Kentucky State University. She worked as a computer programmer and an internal auditor at Ashland Inc. before leaving in 2003 for a teaching career.

Each spring, the Fayette County Education Association selects one or more recipients for its Award for Teaching Excellence based on evidence provided in these areas:

  • Professional practice;
  • Advocacy for the profession;
  • Community engagement;
  • Leadership in professional development; and
  • Attention to diversity. 

This honor recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The award also honors public education and the dedicated members of FCEA. 

“I have access to some amazing individuals because of my relationship with folks in the organization who are extremely helpful, and we share many of the same issues and values. I am amazed at what I continue to find out I have access to because I am a member,” Hairston said. “I was extremely honored to receive this award,” she added. “I was completely blown away by the colleagues who all reached out after it was announced, saying they couldn’t think of anyone more deserving. It lets me know the work I am putting in for the students of Fayette County is noticed by others, and I see this as an amazing honor.” 

For more information, please email Jessica Hiler, the FCEA president, or call (859) 224-0907.