Stephanie Hammonds named Special Edu Teacher of the Year


Morehead State University’s quality education programs are known for consistently producing educators who are some of the best in the state. A recent alum from the Volgenau College of Education received recognition for her work in special education. 

The Council for Exceptional Children recently selected Stephanie Hammonds (Class of 2022), an exceptional child instructor at Carl D. Perkins Job Corps in Paintsville, as its 2023 Special Education Teacher of the Year. She received this honor at the State Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Louisville.  

Originally from Topmost but currently residing in Oil Springs, Hammonds’ journey in special education began when she discovered her passion while tutoring students with dyslexia after graduation.  

“That was the first time any educator had ever taken notice of my efforts and made me feel like I had a purpose and I mattered,” Hammond said. “I started class that fall knowing 100% that I would one day be a special education teacher and that every student that entered my classroom would exit knowing how special they were and how much they mattered.”   

A first-generation college student, Hammonds earned a Bachelor of Arts in Learning and Behavior Disorders (LBD) from Pikeville College (now University of Pikeville) in 1994 and enrolled at MSU to earn her Rank II certification in 2022. The program provided substantial preparation and the flexibility she needed to continue her education while raising a family.  

“MSU helped me become the educator I am now by continuously challenging me,” Hammonds said. “I enjoyed my field experience and was able to witness some of the best teachers in the state in their element and took the strengths I observed and incorporated them into my teaching practices.”  

“Stephanie has been an excellent student at MSU, and her professional achievements reflect her leadership and caring nature,” said Dr. April Miller, dean of the Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education. “We are very proud that she has been recognized by Kentucky Council for Exceptional Children (KCEC) as the Special Education Teacher of the Year.”  

She has been with the Carl D. Perkins Job Corps for the past two years. Previously, she taught as an LBD instructor at Paintsville High School, Betsy Lanye Elementary School, Betsy Layne High School, and Adams Middle School in Floyd County.  

In her 30th year of teaching, Hammonds said she would make her remaining years in teaching count and invest the same amount of time, effort, and energy into her students.  

“The biggest benefits of being a special education teacher has always been being a small part of helping students reach their individual potential and goals,” she said. “The most fulfilling part of my job is the population I work with and being privileged to witness their individual success.”  


Dataseam Apprenticeship Program 2023-2024

Dataseam Apprenticeship Program 2023-2024

Congratulations to Ethan Baker on being accepted into the Dataseam Apprenticeship Program! This is a great opportunity for Ethan to grow his knowledge and develop his skills in IT. Ethan is a hard worker and always ready to tackle new challenges. Paintsville Independent wishes Ethan all the best and we look forward to seeing how he develops in the program! 

Thank you, Dataseam and Brian Gupton for giving our students the opportunity to grow!

$1.5 million granted to Paintsville Independent’s STEAM Academy

$1.5 million granted to Paintsville Independent’s STEAM Academy

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2023) – Today, at Paintsville High School, Rocky Adkins, senior advisor to Gov. Andy Beshear presented $1.5 million in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to benefit Paintsville Independent Schools.

The funding will be used to help renovate an old bank building on Main Street in Paintsville and turn it into a vocational learning center for students in 7th through 12th grades known as the STEAM Career Center. The STEAM Career Center will be within walking distance of the high school and middle school and is projected to serve 500 students annually.

“We know that the best investment we can make is in our future,” said Adkins. “Our students are the future of Kentucky, and they deserve every opportunity to get ahead and be successful. This new career center will prepare these students for the jobs of today and of tomorrow.”

“The new Paintsville Independent Economic Development STEAM Career Center is going to provide our students, community members and regional partners opportunities and options,” said Paintsville Independent Schools Superintendent David Gibson. “Our students will be able to explore different career paths and decide which one may suit them best. Investing in our region and helping our students achieve success and reach their dreams is our ultimate goal.”

The renovation plan proposes to modify the old bank building to support engineering labs, an allied health space, a sound studio and a meeting space. Programs expected to be offered will include nursing; phlebotomy; marketing and entrepreneurship; computer programming; advanced manufacturing; culinary arts; and media and sound production.

Several businesses have agreed to provide equipment and expertise to help with the new STEAM academy. Paintsville Independent Schools bought the old bank building in 2022 and received $2.5 million in state funds to establish the STEAM Career Center.

The $1.5 million in funding comes from the base program of the ARC. Projects from the base program are approved at the federal level upon Gov. Beshear’s recommendation.

The ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian region. Its mission is to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

Reported by K-94.7

Jami Ward earns this years KDPP Award

Jami Ward earns this years KDPP Award

With her hard and outstanding work, Paintsville Independent would like to congratulate our very own Director of Pupil Personnel, Mrs. Jami Ward, for being named the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel 2023 DPP of the Year! Congratulations!

Paintsville Food Baskets

‘Small school, big impact’: Paintsville students to have fruitful Christmas break

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – Students in Paintsville packed their pantries with produce Thursday, each taking home a bag of fruit as a district Christmas gift.

”Our Board of Education has been adamant that we start helping our kids, because of what’s going on with inflation and stuff,” said superintendent David Gibson. “So, this is one way that we can give back to our community- to give back to our students, who we think are some of the best kids in the world.”

The district used some of its excess funds to buy enough fruit for more than 800 gift bags, then the seniors and juniors at the high school helped divide them up and personalize the bags for their peers.

“This is a small school so it feels more like a family and a community,” said senior Camryn Helton.

The idea to make the district-wide gift something sustainable and substantial was important to administrators. Culinary teacher Melissa Castle said the students were able to take part in giving back in a way that could have a true impact on someone who will be home without school meals in the two weeks to come.

”It’s a gift that they can eat and it’s also a gift that they may not have in their house households every day,” she said. ”We take for granted that everybody has fresh fruits and vegetables in their home and they don’t. So, to be able to offer them something that’s fresh to eat during these next two weeks? I think it’s just a gift that will keep on giving.”

Board member Joe Porter said it was important to the Board of Education to see the students take home the provisions, since they do so much to make the district proud.

“Students appreciate what we do for them, but they do much more for us than we do for them,” he said.

Paintsville High School Principal Tiffany Austin said the project is a drop in the bucket of the outpouring of love her students are always willing to give.

”We may be a small school, but we’re making a big impact,” she said.

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