FRANKFORT - Savannah Boone, an exceptional child instructor at LaRue County High School, is Kentucky’s 2020 Special Education Teacher of the Year. Boone will receive a scholarship to attend the Special Education Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., in summer 2021, a plaque and $500.
Each nominee submits an application with three letters of recommendation, including one from their principal or supervisor and one from their district director of special education. They also submit a short video.
Boone intended to teach history, but found her calling teaching literacy.
“I’m in my 13th year of teaching, and this is my fifth year at LaRue County, my 10th year as a special education teacher,” she said. “I have taught it all from second grade to 12th grade, and I have loved it all.”
Boone is a native of Campbellsville and a graduate of Taylor County High School. She graduated from Murray State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in history education. Boone didn’t intend to teach any other subject, but as a December graduate, she had a hard time finding a job. So she began working as a substitute teacher and was eventually emergency certified to teach seventh-grade English.
Part of that job was teaching a Reading Recovery class, intervention for students with low levels of literacy.
“That was the first time that I realized there were students who made it to seventh-grade and couldn’t read,” Boone said. She was heartbroken and shocked, she said.
Boone changed her focus and took a job with Hardin County’s alternative school system. She taught English and social studies to children who spent days or weeks in the mental health hospital system. Her students, who struggled with mental health issues, substance abuse, and troubled home lives, also struggled to read and engage in school.
“It was a trend that students who were struggling in life were struggling in school,” Boone said. “Yet education often was their chance to escape a cycle of abuse or poverty.”
This trend led Boone to the University of the Cumberlands for a master’s degree in special education, which she received in 2011, and spent another year teaching at the alternative school.
“Once I earned my special education teaching certificate, I thought, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do,’” she said. “It feels like where I’m supposed to be.”
Boone moved on to teach special education at the elementary level, also in Hardin County, but then her current position in LaRue County came open, which was a much shorter commute.
She teaches not just basic literacy, but guides students through classic literature in collaborative English classes.
“We’re really preparing them to be critical thinkers and good comprehenders of information, because you need that for any job that you’re going to do and to participate in your community,” Boone said.
She earned her Rank I through National Board Certification in 2017 and a teaching certificate in secondary English in 2019.
Boone said she was nominated for Special Education Teacher of the Year by Rhonda Simpson, DoSE for LaRue County Schools.
She is excited for the chance to speak up for others.
“My goal after winning this award is to be a voice for my students and for my fellow teachers, to tell people about the things that we do and about the things that our students need,” Boone said.