Three outstanding educators were inducted Tuesday at the State Capitol as the third class of the Gov. Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame.
The three, chosen by a statewide selection committee, were Linda D. Childress of Cub Run, Walter Dick of Cumberland and Frances Steenbergen of Glasgow.
“There are few individuals who have a greater ability to influence the lives of Kentucky’s children than our educators,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “A good teacher can instill a love of learning that encourages students to stay in school, develop a voracious appetite for knowledge and continue on to postsecondary education. I am proud to honor three of these fine educators today from across the state: their commitment to and investment in Kentucky’s future is unrivaled.”
The Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame was created in 2000 through a gift by former Gov. Nunn.
“Gov. Nunn selected Western Kentucky University to be the home of the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame because of our 100-year history in teacher education and commitment to excellence in this field,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “And like Gov. Nunn, our current Gov. Steve Beshear and members of the Kentucky General Assembly recognize the vital role that primary and secondary teachers in Kentucky play in the education of young people and the positive impact education has on the state’s economy.”
Gov. Beshear and Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday presented the Hall of Fame awards to each recipient.
Secretary of Education Joe Meyer, House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams also participated in the ceremony, offering their congratulations and thanking the inductees for their combined 117 years of providing young people with skills for the future and making a difference in the lives of countless students.
As part of Tuesday’s induction ceremony, the honorees were introduced on the House and Senate floors and attended a luncheon held in their honor.
Linda D. Childress
Childress, a native of Hart County, retired after 36 years as a music and arts and humanities teacher and director of school chorus groups.
“Music was my passion,” Childress said, adding that she continues to gives private guitar and piano lessons.
Childress has provided numerous opportunities for students from rural areas in Kentucky to experience, participate and develop their individual talents in the arts. She conducted classroom and school talent shows and even started a small television studio at Cub Run Elementary School.
Her commitment and passion for the arts was the driving force behind Cub Run Elementary’s Arts and Humanities scores on the CATS test consistently ranking among the state’s top five including the top score in 2007.
Childress said she was surprised when she learned that she’d been selected for the Hall of Fame. “I never really thought they’d induct someone from little Cub Run Elementary,” she said.
Childress received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and music from Western Kentucky University in 1972, master’s in elementary education from WKU in 1974 and Rank I in elementary education from WKU in 1979.
From 1972-2008, Childress taught at Munfordville Elementary, Bonnieville Elementary, Cub Run Elementary and Hart County High.
“It’s been a great privilege to be in the teaching profession,” she said.
A native of Cumberland, Dick is characterized as a legend by colleagues and former students.
He taught algebra and mathematics for 52 years in the Harlan County school system. His devotion to student success has been evident in before and after school tutoring sessions and his expectation that all of his students can be successful.
His students excelled in math competitions and posted high scores on standardized tests. “We’ve had some great students,” Dick said.
In retirement, Dick continues to teach math skills to GED students as well as students preparing for the ACT exam.
“I know how to teach what I know,” Dick said.
Dick, who ran track in college, was a successful track and baseball coach early in his career and maintained a connection to Cumberland High School’s basketball program by keeping the scorebook in recent years.
Dick received his bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in math and business from Union College in 1956 and his master’s from Union in 1979.
He taught for six years at Benham High School before moving to Cumberland High School in 1961.
Dick has been honored by several groups, but the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame “would have to be the highest,” he said.
Frances Kidd Steenbergen
A Glasgow native, Steenbergen spent 29 years as a teacher and served five years as president of the Kentucky Education Association.
She has been tireless in her efforts to provide a quality education for the students with whom she has worked, and her leadership within the profession has impacted students beyond Kentucky.
By participating in several professional organizations, “I was able to do some activities that involved leadership roles and leadership skills,” Steenbergen said.
Steenbergen taught science, spelling, health and home economics (now family and consumer sciences), coached cheerleaders and speech teams, and was adviser for the yearbook and Family Career and Community Leaders of America.
She taught at Austin Tracy Middle/High School from 1973-87 and at Barren County High School from 1987-2002.
Steenbergen received her bachelor’s degree in home economics from WKU in 1973, her master’s in home economics from WKU in 1977 and her Rank I in education from WKU in 1984.
“I was ecstatic and humbled at the same time,” she said of the Hall of Fame induction. “It has been exciting and wonderful day.”
Steenbergen continues to volunteer at her grandchildren’s school and assists in other education activities. “It’s fun being retired, but I miss the students and the camaraderie with colleagues,” she said.