Kevin Lay, Owensville High School physics teacher and Regional Teacher of the Year, was not selected Monday as the 2020 Missouri State Teacher of the Year but anticipates representing teachers and …
Kevin Lay, Owensville High School physics teacher and Regional Teacher of the Year, was not selected Monday as the 2020 Missouri State Teacher of the Year but anticipates representing teachers and students throughout the year.
“The Teacher of the Year for 2020 is Misty Grandel from Fordland,” Lay said. “It’s really cool, because she is so worthy of it. She has done so many things for her students, and is a great representative of rural education. It’s really nice to know even though you are not Teacher of the Year, she will represent rural education as passionately as you would.”
Lay said the whole experience was still humbling, even though he didn’t win.
“The amount of support that it has taken to get to this point has been overwhelming,” he said. “The whole journey has just been very joyful.”
Lay said the banquet Monday night was an awesome celebration.
“I got to celebrate with former administrators that made impacts in my life, and with people who have helped me along the journey,” he said. “My high school physics teacher was there. To be right there, sitting next to my amazing, wonderful wife, Lisa, children Kendra and Carter, and our Italian daughter (foreign exchange student) Veronica, and just everybody who has made an impact — there to support me. It was like a big celebration and party that we had.”
While the process to select the teacher of the year has been completed, Lay says his job and those of the five other finalists have just begun. Lay says, put in simple terms, he is in the “Teacher of the Year Court.”
“We are at the forefront of a newer Missouri chapter of their National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). As a member of NNSTOY, we are a group of teachers that are going to be representing the students, on behalf of the teachers of the state of Missouri and the nation, we are doing everything we can to empower educators and students being educated,” Lay said. “It doesn’t matter what background they have, just that they are all represented.”
The event Monday night in Jefferson City included an overnight stay, along with events Tuesday morning.
“We were all there today, all seven Teacher of the Year finalists,” Lay said on his way home Tuesday afternoon. “There were a few other previous Teachers of the Year there as well, including Shelly Parks, last year’s teacher.”
“The focus of NNSTOY, through collaboration, and each one of those teachers have an incredible amount of strength,” Lay said. “I am amongst a group of teachers who are just crushin’ it and dominating in their respective fields. I am humbled to be a part of this group of teachers; these teachers are doing amazing, wonderful things. Not only in their classrooms, but in their schools and their districts and state.”
Lay has been with the Gasconade County R-2 School District for 16 years now, and has been a large part of starting the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) program as well as the robotics program in the last five years.
This year, he and three of his STEM/Robotics students participated in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition that won the district $100,000 in Samsung technology. His passion for teaching and contagious excitement for learning overflows into his classroom. Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner agrees.
“Mr. Lay’s student focus approach is well received by the students and the relationships he builds helps for student success,” Garner said. “It was a great banquet and a great night.”
Garner said he spoke with a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education official who was on the panel to choose the Teacher of the Year. “They said it was very hard to pick the winner. I am very proud of Kevin, it is very well deserved.”
“I just want to say a big thank you to those who took a chance on me, who have allowed me to take risks at times,” said Lay. “I am not talking about just the times of explosions, maybe they mistake the propane tank exploding, the pumpkin launching. These people that I mentioned before invested a lot and took a risk on me and I am very appreciative that and them to take a risk on me.”