OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) As western Kentucky school districts enter the final weeks of the school year, three area teachers are honored by Western Kentucky University for teaching and inspiring others.

“Amazing,” said Cami Fulkerson, a reading instructor at Newton Parrish Elementary School in Owensboro.

“I’m absolutely shocked and surprised,” added Terri Zborowski, a special education teacher at Burns Middle School in Daviess County.

A surprising start to the week as the school year comes to an end.

“Just shock and maybe a little disbelief and excitement,” said Holly Johnson, a physical education teachat at Apollo High School.

Fulkerson won WKU’s Distinguished Educator Award for Mentor Teacher. Zborowski was named the Special Educator Distinguished Educator, and Johnson got the Distinguished Educator Award for P.E. and Health.

“I wanted to help our school be the best it could be. In this role, i’m still able to do that because i can teach students, but i’m also able to teach teachers and help them,” Fulkerson said.

The three were the first winners announced for this year’s awards, handed out by the university’s college of education and behavioral sciences, which celebrate educators who make significant contributions.

“inside of this classroom is a special place to be. It’s full of kids that challenge me every day, but make me so happy. It’s like a different teaching experience with every kid i get,” said Zborowski.

They were the winners of three of ten categories, which had a total of nearly 140 nominees, and several dozen finalists. These teachers say the awards make all the work put in and outside the classroom worth it.

“You put a lot of time and extra time in, and it does. It makes you appreciate that every goal you set for yourself or for your school, that it is worth it, and good things come from hard work,” said Johnson.

(This story was originally published on May 9, 2022)