OHS science maverick announces move to Florida

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 1/8/20

Kevin Lay, Owensville High School (OHS) science teacher who recently placed as a runner-up in the 2020 Missouri State Teacher of the Year contest, has submitted his resignation to the Gasconade …

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OHS science maverick announces move to Florida

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Kevin Lay, Owensville High School (OHS) science teacher who recently placed as a runner-up in the 2020 Missouri State Teacher of the Year contest, has submitted his resignation to the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education, as the family is moving to Florida in June.

“A lot of the pieces and moving parts just fell into place for it to happen and the good Lord presented an opportunity for us to do it,” Lay said late Friday afternoon during a phone interview. “We visit family and friends in the area every year. Now it is more exposure and more time. It has really warmed our hearts to the area.”

The Lay family vacationed in Florida during Christmas break. They were just starting a 15 hour drive back to Missouri when the interview began.

“We have talked about it for the past year or two and it’s always been one of those things we thought, ‘man, this would be a really nice place for our family to move, live and continue on,’” Lay said.

The family announced they were intending to move this June with a video that they played to the youth group at the Owensville Christian Church. Lay said there wasn’t a turning point or specific time that they made the decision to move, but a choice they made gradually. Their children were also a big factor.

“My daughter is going to high school and my son is a few years off from middle school,” Lay said. “My wife and I — I have been back and forth on it and by a little, I mean a lot. The reason why is because we have so many wonderful memories of Owensville and the community that just accepted us.”

Ultimately, the Lay family sat down and made the choice together.

“The amazing opportunities we have ahead of us as a family and wonderful memories we are going to have and carry with us (were a big factor),” Lay said. “We want to be able to move and know we left with the wonderful thoughts and fond memories of people and incredible memories Owensville gave us.”

Lay is active at in the STEM and robotics programs at OHS and is a member of the Board of Elders at Owensville Christian Church. He waited to begin applying for positions in Florida until he informed the R-2 administration and the church about the family’s intentions. The state of Florida reciprocates and acknowledges Missouri teaching certificates on the same level as their own. Lay has already submitted his teaching application for review and is waiting on transcripts to be transferred, so he will be certified to teach in Florida.

“I have a few options,” he said about his job opportunities. “I have applications in — they are awaiting transcripts — probably within the next couple of weeks.”

The family would like to live in St. Johns County, which has several high schools that are part of an academy system.

“They have a handful of high schools rated high — the highest in Florida,” Lay said. “I want to work in that county.”

The opportunity for the Lay children is limitless.

“They will be graduating with a distinct advantage from those academies and going on to three and four year university programs as well,” Lay said.

After winning the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest with the STEM students last year, Lay’s science classroom has been turned into an academic command center. He says leaving that setting will not be easy. “It’s going to be difficult,” Lay said.

The Lays are planning to take their “uplifiting” experience in Owensville with them on their new adventure.

“We are going to a place where my family can live, and have fun, and go to the beach and do the wonderful things we have been talking about the past few years — its become a reality and Owensville will always be a big part of my life because of that.”

When the robotics program was first implemented nearly five years ago, Lay told administrators during a city meeting that he wanted Owensville High School to have the best program “on this side of the Mississippi.”

“I think we have lived up to that,” he said. “The school is going to bring in someone passionate to work for these kids, the school is going to do the due diligence.”

Lay said he has never regretted his decision to work at Owensville High School, and the program he helped start will grow and flourish for future students.

“We did a lot and it took a lot of dedication and sacrifice and trust on the administrator’s part,” he said. “They took some risks and allowed me to take some risks. Now we have a nationally recognized school, known for so many wonderful things  — STEM, FFA and it’s just a matter of time before people will be leading kids in different directions. There will always be opening doors and opportunities for those kids.”

Lay expects his resignation to be approved at the Jan. 20 school board meeting.

Just because the family has announced the move so far in advance doesn’t mean the next six months will be all “easy street.”

“We are excited about it and pumped. We still have six months and I am bringing the thunder the second semester,” Lay said in another of his famous, explosive quotes. “It’s not over. We have STEM projects we have to do and robotics competitions we need to be dominating at. These kids deserve every bit of energy our family has. It’s not like we are moving and slacking. Nah, nah, nah, we are finishing this year strong.”

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