Three outstanding educators were inducted Tuesday afternoon at the State Capitol as the fourth class of the Gov. Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame.
The three, chosen by a statewide selection committee, are the late Artie Johnson Hankins of Morgantown, who taught for 44 years in Butler County; Patricia J. Morris of Louisville, who taught history for more than 30 years in Jefferson County; and Deidra Hylton Patton of Ashland, who has served as gifted and talented coordinator at Boyd County and Knott County schools.
“Outside of parents or family, teachers often have the most influence over a child’s life and future educational pursuits, including their eventual career paths,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “Today we honor these three outstanding teachers for giving our students and our state a brighter future.”
Joseph Meyer, secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, introduced the 2011 inductees. Beshear and Meyer presented Teacher Hall of Fame plaques to the inductees.
The Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame was created in 2000 through a gift by former Gov. Nunn, who hoped to 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. WKU was selected as the home of the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame because of its more than 100-year history in teacher education.
“WKU is honored to be home to the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame,” President Gary Ransdell said.
The ceremony included congratulatory remarks from House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams. The inductees also were introduced and recognized in the House and Senate chambers.
Artie Johnson Hankins
“Miss Artie,” a native of the Big Hill community in Butler County, was determined to become a teacher, but as the oldest child of 10 in a coal-mining family in the early 1930s she knew her family couldn’t afford the cost of a college education.
To achieve her dream and attend Western Kentucky State Teacher’s College (now WKU), she borrowed $250 from an uncle. Within a year she received a teaching certificate, returned to Butler County and repaid the loan in four years.
From 1933 to 1954, “Miss Artie” taught in one-room schools at Limestone, Youngtown, Greenwood, Science Hill, Big Muddy and Hickory Stand. From 1954 to 1977, she taught third grade at Morgantown Elementary.
Between 1932 and 1958 she took classes at WKU and received her bachelor’s degree in 1958.
In addition to her 44-year teaching career, Hankins and a longtime friend documented the happenings of the Dunbar community for the Butler County newspaper.
After Hankins died in March 2010, her family established the Artie Hankins Scholarship Fund through the Butler County Education Foundation. A $250 scholarship, the amount “Miss Artie” borrowed and the amount awarded to Teacher Hall of Fame inductees, will help students from Butler County pursue a teaching degree.
“She would have loved it,” said Marquita Hamilton, who represented her mother at Tuesday’s induction. “I wish she could have been here. We were real proud of her.
“She loved teaching. She loved children. She loved people.”
Patricia J. Morris
Morris, a native of Louisville, always wanted to be a teacher even while playing school as a child in her family’s basement with neighborhood friends.
“I’ve always taught,” she said. “Teaching is just what I do.”
Morris, who retired after teaching history for 30 years in Jefferson County, is known for making history fascinating for students by using various creative projects. One of her favorite times of the school year was when students would participate in oral history projects and hear remarkable stories from people who had participated in historic events.
Since 1986, she taught American history and Advanced Placement classes at Ballard High School.
She taught at Jeffersontown High from 1967 to 1971 and at Sacred Heart Model School from 1984 to 1986.
Among her awards and recognitions are the 2009 Organization of American Historians Tachau Teacher of the Year Award, the 2004 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year Award for Kentucky and 1999 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year.
Morris received her bachelor’s degree (1967), master’s degree (1987) and Rank I (1996) from the University of Louisville.
“It’s a tremendous honor but it’s humbling too,” she said of her induction. “I wish there was a way we could thank every Kentucky teacher out there. I hope they are proud to see we are represented in front of the legislature.”
Deidra Hylton Patton
As a student with a creative spirit, Patton said she considered several career options including drama, the arts, architecture and more. “But it always kept coming back to teaching,” she said.
As a teacher, she could design, direct, act, write and use her creativity to impact student learning. “Teaching is the best and it’s the best fit for me,” she said.
Patton, who grew up in Hindman, has been a teacher for 28 years.
Since 1999, Patton has been gifted and talented coordinator at Boyd County schools and K-5 gifted education teacher at Cannonsburg Elementary.
After serving as fourth-grade teacher at Carr Creek Elementary in 1982, Patton piloted a gifted and talented program for Knott County schools from 1983 to 1987. She taught third and fourth grade at Cannonsburg from 1988 to 1991 and was gifted education teacher for Boyd County schools from 1991 to 1999.
Patton received a bachelor’s degree (1982) from Alice Lloyd College, master’s degree (1984) and Rank I (1985) from Morehead State University, and National Board Certification in 2003.
Her awards include a 2008 Ashland Teacher Achievement Award and the Alice Lloyd College Elementary Education Award.
“Teachers are ‘giving tree’ people,” she said referring to a popular children’s book. “But the good thing is the students give back to us.”
Contact: Dr. Sam Evans, (270) 745-4662.