MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University College of Education and Human Services held its 35th annual Harry M. Sparks Distinguished Lecture on April 30 in the CFSB Center’s Murray Room. Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Kentucky’s commissioner of education, was the featured speaker for this event, and several regional educators were honored with the college’s alumni awards.

Lewis shared an overview of his own experiences that led to becoming an educator. He also touched on the new state requirements for high school students. Lewis spoke of the importance of school, family and community engagement and their relationship to student growth.

“I think watching teaching is like watching magic,” he said.

The College of Education and Human Services was proud to honor outstanding educators and service professionals in the region. Following a public nomination process, a committee met and selected the following individuals to receive the college’s alumni awards.

Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher: Kimberly Nantz, Hendron Lone Oak Elementary School

Outstanding Elementary School Teacher: Stephanie Laird, Heath Elementary School

Outstanding Middle School Teacher: Lori Hyde, Lone Oak Middle School

Outstanding High School Teacher: Justin Scott, Murray High School

Outstanding Education Administrator: Stephen Ybarzabal, Clark Elementary School

Outstanding Education Support Staff: Chiffon Winston, McNabb Elementary School

Outstanding Service Professional: Terra Bryan, Fulton Independent School District

These awardees were recognized as advocates in their field, often going above and beyond the call of duty to serve others and work collaboratively and creatively to solve problems. They are effective leaders, helpful teammates and inspiring mentors.

The College of Education and Human Services also presented the Dr. Charles and Marlene Johnson Outstanding Education Faculty Award to Dr. Mi-Hwa Park of the college’s interdisciplinary early childhood education program. This honor is bestowed each year upon one remarkable faculty member who has distinguished him/herself in the areas of teaching, service and research.

Lastly, Lewis was presented with a glass flame trophy for serving as the evening’s featured lecturer.

Visit to learn more about the College of Education and Human Services and its programs. More photos from the Sparks Lecture can be found online at

Photo: Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, right, receives a glass flame trophy from Murray State University College of Education and Human Services Dean Dr. David Whaley at the 35th annual Harry M. Sparks Distinguished Lecture. Lewis was the night’s keynote speaker.

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