April 2024

Rowan County’s Allison Slone Named KEA Teacher of the Year

For the second year in a row, KEA’s Teacher of the Year hails from Rowan County

Allison Slone, a special education teacher at Rowan County Senior High School, was presented with the KEA Award for Teaching Excellence at the 152nd Delegate Assembly in April. She has been a KEA member and has taught in Rowan County for 24 years.

Slone is rightly proud to be an educator in Kentucky and a KEA member, and the honor of being KEA’s Teacher of the Year is a dream come true and something she has dreamed about for many years. Her roles as a teacher, a leader in her profession, and an advocate for KEA were spurred on when her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, and she discovered that up to 20 percent of the student population is impacted by the learning disability.

“The momma bear in me became the teacher bear,” said Slone. “I had to find my voice so that I could be their voice. And once you find your voice it’s very difficult to turn it off.”

Slone’s voice is now heard loud and clear in the classroom, teacher’s lounge, union hall, board room, and in the community. In addition to dozens of committees and organizations she has taken an active part in, Slone is president of the Rowan County Education Association (RCEA), served on the National Education Association’s (NEA) Leaders for Just Schools Committee, was the first active teacher to serve as an ex-officio member of the Kentucky Board of Education, leads the Appalachia Educators Alliance, and founded the Kentucky Teachers in the Know Facebook group.

“This award is for each and every one of you perfectly imperfect teachers who get up every day and give it one more try,” Slone said upon accepting the award. “Yesterday and today, you didn’t just teach children. You taught a lawyer, a mechanic, a senator, a teacher, a doctor, a babysitter, a stay-at-home mom, a lineman, a welder, a governor, an astronaut, or a bus driver. Who knows who you will teach tomorrow.

“Teaching is not for the faint of heart. It is not an easy job. Some days, you just barely make it to the last bell. It is exhausting, mentally and physically. For all the teachers out there who are struggling, I don’t want you to believe that you have to be some perfect ninja warrior, multi-hat wearing, acrobatic, superhero, magician to win this award.

“This award isn’t about being perfect. To me, it is about kicking the status quo to the curb and creating a new narrative in education. About showing every student that being a teacher is the greatest profession in the world and that we will not sit quietly and allow it to fall apart. It is about the importance of every single person who works in our public schools from the bus driver to the cook, to the instructional assistant to the teacher—we are all educators.”

Slone encourages her fellow educators to stand up and be heard as the experts they are in education. “Allison’s leadership with RCEA sets a high standard for other leadership teams that hasn’t gone unnoticed among employees transferring from other districts,” said Kelly Crowder, vice president of RCEA and a third-grade teacher at McBrayer Elementary in Rowan County.

“Allison has been a voice for teachers, working to ensure safe and positive working environments so that teachers are able to maximize the support they give to their students,” added Melissa Jenkins, last year’s KEA Teacher of the Year and fellow Rowan County educator. “She is a diplomatic voice and a strong advocate to encourage membership and policy changes that impact education.”

Long before she was RCEA president, Slone worked diligently as a special educator for 24 years. Her commitment to public education is tireless. She helped implement a school-wide Rowan County Project Based Learning plan to develop a soup kitchen/food scarcity community activity. She served nine years on the Rowan County Middle School site-based decision-making council and was lead planner for the Kentucky Teachers in the Know Conference, which provides professional learning opportunities for Kentucky school employees. She has served on both the Kentucky Department of Education Dyslexia Task Force and the Kentucky International Dyslexia Association board.

The annual teacher of the year award is presented to a KEA educator who exhibits excellence in five critical areas of teaching—professional practice, advocacy for the profession, attention to diversity, community engagement and leadership in professional development.

“Allison is a rockstar,” said Patrice McCrary, a retired teacher and former KEA Teacher of the Year. “In the area of professional practice, Allison is beyond dedicated to her students, families, and colleagues. Her experiences are a testimony to how much she immerses herself in the world of education. As an Emotional Behavioral Disturbance teacher, she developed a leveled management system that was so beneficial for her students that several surrounding districts implemented the plan as well.”

To Sonya Brown, whose son Ethan had Slone as his case manager, “she is a gift to the profession and to every child that she touches. I’ve never seen a teacher as dedicated to the profession of teaching, care, and education of her students, and devoted to our Rowan County school system and the Kentucky public school system.”

“Allison Slone is a standout choice for KEA’s Teacher of the Year award,” said Eddie Campbell, president of the 40,000-member education association. “As an educator, she leads with empathy and knowledge, and as an advocate for teachers and students, she makes her voice heard and carries the courage of her convictions.”

Slone is a graduate of Morehead State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. She is originally from Knott County and graduated from Knott Central High School.

“I have dedicated my career to my students, as all teachers do, but I have also dedicated my life to advocating for my colleagues. We have to speak up for the educators so that they can take care of our students,” said Slone. “During a time when our profession is in crisis, we need all hands on deck to ensure we recruit and retain the best. The future of our schools, our communities, our economic development, our country, and our freedoms depend on it.”