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Simon Kenton Educator Named KEA Teacher of the Year

A Simon Kenton High School teacher was named Teacher of the Year for 2021 by the Kentucky Education Association.

Leann Lewis teaches English at the high school in Independence.

“Leann is  one  of  the  most  pivotal,  crucial  professionals—a  freshman  English  teacher who guides students through a meaningful transition between middle (and) high school. She has  the talent, skill  and  capacity  to work  with  all  students  regardless  of  ability  or diversity, and  her  innovative,  creative work  in  Read  180  is  a  model for  schools  in our district  and  state,”  said  Laura  Schneider, a fellow teacher at Simon Kenton and president emeritus of the Kenton County Education Association.  

The Read 180 program is one designed to assist struggling readers, and is explained by the Kenton County School District here.

“Her curriculum continually changes as she envisions the needs of students evolving and changing. This is the hallmark of a great teacher and Leann is one of the best,” Schneider said.

Lewis is the daughter of a teacher. Her mother, Sally, was a longtime preschool teacher at church and Kindergarten instructional assistant.

“Teaching has always been my first career choice. I love being a teacher because I love learning and sharing what I have learned,” Leis said. “I had teachers that  gave up  their time before, during, and after school and did all they could to engage students in learning.

“Since becoming an educator, I use that same philosophy to help students.”

Lewis works with a diverse population of students with a variety of needs. Some read grades below their reading level and struggle with food insecurity and emotional  issues that can make learning more difficult, a news release said.  

Lewis developed a reading curriculum to assist her students in exploring social justice issues, and improved a program targeting freshman success and college readiness,


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," the organization said.

“Leann Lewis embodies what a KEA educator in Kentucky strives to be," said Eddie Campbell, president of the 40,000-plus member education association. “She is dedicated and involved with her students, school, community and profession. She works to make each of them better. She is so deserving of this teacher of the year  award.”

Lewis was also awarded the 2021 "Be Like Mr. Rogers Award" from Kenton County Schools, was named a top-20 educator by Cincinnati Magazine in 2019, and was honored with the 2016 teacher of the year award from the Northern Kentucky Education Association.

Lewis holds a bachelor's degree from Morehead State University and a master's degree from Indiana Wesleyan University.

She describes herself as an enthusiastic leader at her school.  

“Throughout  my  career, I have taken on many leadership roles in the classroom, including team leader and manager of freshman events like orientation and end of year rewards. If it is for my students, there is nothing I will not do,” she  said.

Lewis also serves on Simon Kenton's site-based decision-making council, leads professional development sessions, and is the president of the Kenton County Education Association.

“As an educator, it is not only my job to participate in the community but to model that for my  students. It  helps them to see educators as real people and provide a chance to give back to the community,” said Lewis. “This year has proven that as an education community we can work together to learn skills and strategies to support new learning formats, creative ways to engage students in person or virtually.  

"Just because we fill the role of the teacher and manager of the classroom does not mean that we are finished learning. I think that has influenced our students in a positive way as well, to see that learning is not just for school hours but for a lifetime."

-Staff report

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