W.R. McNeill Elementary School language arts teacher Lauren Coffey was recently recognized as one of 24 outstanding educators who’ve received 2022 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Awards.

“I’m just excited to have been nominated,” Coffey told the Daily News in a recent interview, reacting to the announcement from the Kentucky Department of Education.

Earning a Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award qualifies Coffey, along with 23 other educators, to compete for the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in September.

It also distinguishes Coffey as one of many educators who’ve weathered the trials of a pandemic that disrupted daily life and education.

“We are honored to celebrate some of Kentucky’s most outstanding educators who have exhibited extraordinary resilience during this past year,” Sam Mitchell, Valvoline’s chief executive officer, said in a news release announcing the winners.

“Despite the difficulties they faced during a global pandemic, Kentucky’s teachers have continued to place their focus on educational excellence – and this year’s award winners exemplified this priority. Valvoline is pleased to celebrate and recognize these outstanding teachers.”

“I wish that all of my colleagues and friends could be recognized in such a meaningful way,” Coffey said of the award.

She added that her students also deserve recognition, given the dedication and resilience they demonstrated during the pandemic.

As the district prepares to return to in-person instruction Aug. 5, Coffey is eager for school to return to normal.

“I think that this experience really taught all of us … how important education is,” Coffey said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.