Education Notes: McAlister, Anderson named National Merit semifinalists; Turay named Alltech Artist-in-Residence at Centre College

Ben McMaine
Ben McMaine Photo provided


▪ Danville Independent students Daniel J. McAlister and Abigail G. Anderson have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Daniel is captain of the quick recall team and has played soccer and run track and cross country. Abigail is a member of Boyle County Youth Leadership, has been class president for the last two years, and is a student coach for the Bate Middle School academic team. She was recognized by the 2016 Youth Salute program and is a multi-state and national qualifier on the forensics team. She is a 2016 Governor’s Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She was also the only teen to have a short story published in the anthology “Portable Magic.” She plans to study English and pursue writing in college.

▪ More than 59,000 students in 146 Kentucky schools, including 11 sites in Lexington, will enjoy fresh produce during the 2016-17 school year as part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Participating elementary schools in Fayette County Public Schools include Arlington, Breckinridge, Cardinal Valley, Deep Springs, Harrison, James Lane Allen, Mary Todd, Millcreek, Northern, Russell Cave and William Wells Brown.

The program introduces healthful snack options throughout the day. The goal is to affect children’s diets and improve their health.

Selection was based on submitted applications from elementary schools that operate the National School Lunch Program and that have 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Kentucky received more than $3 million in funding; each school gets about $50 per student.

▪ Lexmark International has honored a Lexington elementary teacher with the company’s first Educating Excellence award. Rachel Matthews, a teacher at Maxwell Spanish Immersion Magnet, was surprised on Sept. 16 in front of peers and students at her school and received a $1,000 award for her classroom.

Matthews uses the scientific method and inquiry-based learning whenever possible, and she designs instruction so her classes explore unfamiliar topics through experimentation and hands-on activities.

▪ Gregory Turay, world-renowned tenor and Metropolitan Opera veteran, has been appointed the Alltech Artist-in-Residence at Centre College.

Over the coming year, Turay will give a recital, offer vocal workshops and collaborate with Centre’s choral conductor, Johann Van Niekerk. Turay will also teach an opera workshop during the three-week CentreTerm in January and collaborate with Centre associate professor Nathan Link, who specializes in 18th-century opera, on a team-taught course. For a few students, Turay will offer private voice lessons.

A Lexington resident and alumnus of the University of Kentucky, Turay began his meteoric rise in 1995 when, at age 21, he won the Metropolitan Opera National Councils auditions. After training in the Met’s Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, Turay made his Met debut in “Ariadne auf Naxos,” conducted by James Levine. He has since appeared on the Metropolitan Opera stage for 10 consecutive seasons.

Music lovers wishing to hear Turay perform will have an opportunity at 7 p.m. Oct. 25, when he offers a recital, “A Tour of America in Song,” on the stage of Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts. The recital will be open to the public.

▪ Jason Marion, associate professor of environmental health science at Eastern Kentucky University, has been named president of the Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs.

The association represents the interests of the 31 accredited environmental health programs across the United States. Its mission is to strengthen the practice of public health by enhancing and promoting science-based environmental health education.

Marion, who joined the EKU faculty in 2012, is the first association president from EKU since Gary Brown in 2011.

▪ A pair of Spanish teachers in Fayette County Public Schools has received statewide recognition during the Kentucky World Language Association’s fall conference.

Jennifer Kennedy of Southern Elementary was named Outstanding New Teacher of the Year, and Ben McMaine of Carter G. Woodson Academy picked up an Outstanding Teacher Award from the Kentucky chapter of the National Network for Early Language Learning, a professional organization for K-8 world language teachers.