We think it is safe to say that receiving accolades or outside recognition is not the primary motivator for the vast majority of Kentucky’s teachers. Seeing students achieve and grow is the profession’s most coveted reward – but that doesn’t mean other awards and honors are not valued when they come.

In Kentucky, perhaps the most powerful celebration of a teacher’s career is induction into the Gov. Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame, a distinction earned last week by longtime Barren County High School instructor Sharon Coomer Mattingly.

Mattingly, who teaches Spanish, has been a stalwart at BCHS in Glasgow for nearly three decades, and her work has been recognized before: In 2019, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Kentucky World Language Association for “her long-term commitment to immersing her students in the Spanish language and cultures.”

The state’s teacher hall of fame – which was established in 2000 thanks to a gift by Nunn, a former governor – strives to recognize the vital role classroom teachers play in shaping the lives of young people and the long-term success of the state’s economy. Western Kentucky University was chosen to be the hall’s home because of the university’s century-plus commitment to teacher education.

Not surprisingly, Mattingly accepted her induction with grace and humility.

“There simply are no words. There are no words,” Mattingly said during the ceremony last week at WKU’s Gary Ransdell Hall. “It’s the most prestigious honor you can get as a teacher in the state of Kentucky. When your student and the people who work with you nominate you, it says that you have done a good job. And that’s what we are in it for.

“It’s the team that lifts you up. It’s the team that’s around you. None of us teaches alone. We can’t be any better than the team that lifts us up. I can’t take any credit for today. It’s because of all the wonderful people who have made my life what it is.”

Mattingly is the newest member of a strong contingent of educators in our region who have earned a place in the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame, and they are all illustrative of the high-quality instruction and guidance provided to students in southcentral Kentucky.

We truly believe this is one of the best areas in the state for public education, and teachers such as Mattingly – many of whom are equally deserving of hall of fame consideration – are the primary reasons that is the case.

“Our Opinion” pieces in the Bowling Green Daily News exclusively represent the majority opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or beliefs of any other Daily News employees.

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