By JEROD CLAPP
A little choked up with pride, Allison Walker took the microphone to say a few words about someone who is her colleague, co-worker, but most importantly, her friend.
“Throughout our lives, we all meet people who have a profound effect on us,” Walker said, “people who help shape us and leave a lasting impression upon us. For me, Sarah is one of those people. Not only has she been a steadfast friend to me, she’s also helped shape me into the teacher I am today.”
Sarah Hockersmith, a fifth-grade teacher at Parkwood Elementary School, was given the WHAS-TV Excel Award and the Greater Clark County Schools Teacher of the Year Award on Wednesday. Hockersmith was recognized for her leadership as a teacher with her students and colleagues. But the people who spoke about her at the ceremony also talked about their friendship with her.
Hockersmith has been teaching for 13 years, all of them spent in the fifth grade at Parkwood. In a school with a large Hispanic population, her background with teaching English as a Native Language has made students in her class and their parents feel more at ease.
Andrew Melin, superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools, said in his years of teaching, he’s recognized educators who are truly innovative in their classrooms.
“Teaching is not only a science, but in particular, it’s an art,” Melin said. “There are superstars that exist in our school corporation.”
Hockersmith said her classroom usually isn’t quiet. She said it’s not because the students are disrespectful, but she encourages them to work together and collaborate. She said she thinks that fosters the best kind of learning environment.
Todd Bledsoe, another fifth-grade teacher at the school, said Hockersmith deserved a lifetime achievement award for putting up with him over the years. But he said while he learns from her all the time, he truly values his friendship with her.
“It’s truly a blessing to be able to teach with her every day and I’m lucky enough to have been teaching with her for 10 years,” Bledsoe said. “Every day, I absorb everything she gives me and I’m truly blessed with that.”
Gary Roedemeier, newscaster with WHAS, said after seeing her teach in the classroom, he’s not surprised she was chosen for the award.
“I can tell you that she is a master teacher,” Roedemeier said, “a commanding presence with her students and a role model for all that is good about public education in Greater Clark County Schools.”
As part of the Excel award, she was also given $1,000 from Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities to use in her classroom as she saw fit. Hockersmith said she wasn’t sure how she would use the money specifically, but thinks technology spending would be a good use of the funding.
“A lot of my students don’t have computers at home at all, so it’d a big deal when they get the opportunity to have a free computer pass, just time to use the computer without an assignment,” Hockersmith said. “Maybe I’ll purchase more computers for the classroom.”
Hockersmith said she was lucky to teach with educators who care so much for their students and the profession.
“I work in a building where my colleagues are so amazing,” Hockersmith said. “I can’t even express in words what a privilege it is to come to work every day and work with a group of people so dedicated to their students and dedicated to the profession.
“ I would never expect that I would be selected out of such an amazing staff.”