ExCEL Nominees Share Passion for Student Success

(left to Right) David L. Raleigh, Superintendent LaRue County Schools; Karlotta Cecil, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School; Misty Bivens, LaRue County High School; Tim Gross, LaRue County Middle School; and Lacy Hatfield, Hodgenville Elementary School.
(left to Right) David L. Raleigh, Superintendent LaRue County Schools; Karlotta Cecil, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School; Misty Bivens, LaRue County High School; Tim Gross, LaRue County Middle School; and Lacy Hatfield, Hodgenville Elementary School.

By Ron Benningfield


Four LaRue County teachers are nominees for the 2018-19 LG&E KU and WHAS-TV Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leadership (ExCEL) Award.

They include Karlotta Cecil, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School; Lacy Hatfield, Hodgenville Elementary School; Tim Gross, LaRue County Middle School; and Misty Bivens, LaRue County High School.

The award recognizes public school teachers who exemplify teaching excellence using innovation, excitement, and enthusiasm in their teaching methodology; who maintain meaningful personal relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and community members; who are role models of professionalism and citizenry; and who are personally committed to continued professional development and enhancement.

Karlotta Cecil

Cecil, in her 23rd year in the classroom, 14 of them in LaRue County, teaches fifth grade math and science.

“I am very humbled that I was selected to represent our school,” she said. “We have a lot of great teachers that are all deserving of this award. It makes my job easy to have such great support.”

To her, teaching is a calling.

“God put me on earth to be a mother,” she shared. “When I teach, I get to be a school mother to many students each year. I love LaRue County, and I teach so that I can give back to my community.

“I am able to build solid relationships with students that last a lifetime. It is empowering watching my students grow and become successful citizens.” 

Lacy Hatfield

Hatfield, who teaches fourth-grade math and social studies, said she was honored to be recognized for the work she puts in every day.

“I come to work and give it all that I have to offer and I am very appreciative that my efforts are recognized,” she noted.

Now in her 15th year of teaching, she began her career as a sixth grade teacher in LaRue County followed by nine years in Nelson County, after which she returned to LaRue where she has taught the last five years at HES.

Hatfield said it seems so cliché to say she teaches because she wants to make a difference, but explained, “I want to make a difference academically, but most importantly I want to make a difference in each child. I want them to reflect back on their elementary days and not only carry over content in which they learned in our classroom, but the motivation and assurance they received.

“I teach because I want students to know that someone truly believes in them and that they have a purpose. I teach because I want to see students succeed in every aspect of life.”

Tim Gross

Gross has taught a total of 18 years including 16 years in Michigan and the last two in LaRue as a physical education teacher and varsity wrestling coach.

“This school system is amazing and just being a part of LaRue County Schools is such a blessing,” he declared. “I love coming to work every day and being around the LaRue County students and staff is a dream come true.”

Gross said the nomination means a lot to him as it shows that the hard work he puts into his job is noticed.  

He enjoys helping kids self assess their fitness levels, set goals, work hard to make gains, and reach their full potential. 

“I strive to make physical fitness interesting and enjoyable so it will become an important priority in their life, so they can have a healthy, enjoyable future,” he stated.

Misty Bivens

While acknowledging that she doesn’t teach for recognition, Bivens feels that her being nominated is as much a reflection on the great agriculture program at the high school as it is a recognition of her teaching.

“Sometimes a student just needs a little push to be their very best, and I feel like this is a reflection of all the pushes I’ve given to students over the years,” said the 18-year classroom veteran who teaches agriculture students in all high school grade levels, but primarily freshmen and sophomores.

“I get to build relationships with my students because many times I will have them for four years as students and as FFA members,” she observed. “I know that high school is probably the last formal schooling that many of my students are going to complete. I really want to try and make a difference in the lives of the students that I teach.

“I realize that many of them may never get a job in the agriculture profession, but hopefully they’ll all have a little better understanding of agriculture and will have learned some life skills that will help them to be successful in the future.” 

ExCEL Ceremony

After the nominees proceed through a rigorous selection process, the district winner will be announced. Representatives from the sponsors will visit the winner’s school later in the school year for an ExCEL ceremony honoring the district’s ExCEL teacher of the year.  

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