Education notes: Dec. 28


Grace Florence has received the 2011 Joy Edwards Hembree Oak Leaf Award for Excellence in the Care of Children from her colleagues at UK HealthCare for her service and dedication in pediatric care. For decades, Florence coordinated care for pediatric services to Eastern Kentucky, working with health departments in rural communities and health care providers at the University of Kentucky.

Award winners are nominated and chosen by their colleagues at Kentucky Children's Hospital. The criteria include compassion, teamwork, service, professionalism, leadership and a commitment to excellence.

Florence worked with early leaders in pediatrics in a variety of settings and was one of the first pediatric nurse practitioners at UK HealthCare. She retired in September after 44 years of service and is now working part-time at Kentucky Children's Hospital.

■ Four teachers have received $250 classroom grants from the Fayette County Education Association:

Lisa Baradaran will buy a sign-language DVD program for her students in the AIM/Rebound alternative classes based at "It's About Kids" Support Services.

Cori Coleman of Harrison Elementary will buy supplies to maintain the many animals she uses to teach the new science standards.

Amanda Lloyd of Dixie Magnet Elementary will get three balance balls and two balance ball chairs to help her special education students focus on instruction.

Sarah Spencer of Stonewall Elementary will buy additional sets of Orton-Gillingham readers for her students.

The education association, which represents about 1,200 teachers in Fayette County, awards four grants in the fall and four in the spring. The association's building representatives choose the winners.

Dr. Bill Wathen of Weatherford, Texas, has been named the 2011 recipient of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry's Distinguished Alumni Award.

Wathen has practiced dentistry for 44 years. He graduated from UK in 1963 and from the College of Dentistry in 1967. After graduation, Wathen spent three years in the Air Force, and was stationed in Louisiana. From 1971 to 1976, Wathen was director of the Dental Assistants Training Program at the Trimble Technical High School Clinic in Texas. He then went to Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he was a clinical instructor in the department of oral medicine/oral pathology. Wathen is now marking 20 years at Baylor College of Dentistry, where he has held numerous positions, ranging from course director to associate dean.

■ Parents from Fayette County Public Schools were among 30 from across Kentucky who took part in the fall Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, which focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM. The program helps parents become more effective advocates for their children's educations.

Institute graduates from Fayette County Public Schools are: Alethea Bernard, Bryan Station Middle School; Lucy Blankenship, Lexington Traditional Magnet School; Jocelyn deCastro, Tates Creek Middle School; Casey Hinds and Adrienne Godfrey Thakur, Ashland Elementary; Kaye Hughes, Edythe J. Hayes Middle School; Colleen Wolfe, Veterans Park Elementary; and Suzetta Yates, Bryan Station High School.

The participants attended three two-day training sessions to increase their understanding of school performance and of ways to improve it. Each parent will conduct a follow-up project designed to accelerate students' academic achievement at his or her child's school and to involve more parents while concentrating on the STEM areas. The James Graham Brown Foundation provided primary support for the institute.

For more information or to register for an institute, go to or call (859) 233-9849, Ext. 231. Applications will be accepted starting in mid-January for next fall's institute.

■ Students at Jessie Clark Middle School collected one of the largest donations in the school's history this year in the St. Jude Math-A-Thon, raising $1,056 to help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital combat childhood cancers.

This was the 23rd year that Jessie Clark has participated in the math-a-thon. The school's cumulative contributions to St. Jude over the years total more than $21,500.

Jessie Clark often participates in philanthropic events throughout the year. Students recently raised $3,500 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Caring for Nurses, and they donated more than 5,600 pounds in the God's Pantry "Kids Can Hunger" food drive.

Tates Creek Middle School and Ashland Elementary gathered the most in the Lexington History Museum's aluminum scrap drive, which coincided with the opening of its World War II exhibit Lexington Salutes the Greatest Generation. Collecting scrap metal was an important way that most Americans helped in the war effort. The schools' prize is a trip to the downtown museum, including the cost of buses and substitute teachers as needed.

The museum will sponsor the contest annually during the exhibit's four-year display. Next year's scrap drive, open to all schools in Fayette County, will run from Nov. 1 to winter break. To sign up, contact museum curator Debra Watkins at (859) 254-0530.