Lay is finalist for Teacher of the Year Award

By: 
Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

Owensville High School’s (OHS) Kevin Lay has already received the Regional Teacher of the Year Award and is now among the seven educators selected as a finalist for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Award.

Lay teaches STEM, Computer Science, Physics and Physical Science at OHS and sponsors both FIRST robotics teams at OHS. He received the news of his finalist status Aug. 27 during an open hour at school.

“My first reaction was, ‘I smiled and said, Thank you, God,’” said Lay.

Later, he was congratulated by OHS Principal Kris Altemeyer.

“I am incredibly overwhelmed with the honor and it is incredible the way God has worked in this process,” Lay said. “When you think about how long ago we started: with the no tax increase bond issue, and the STEM labs being built, the support from Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy, Dr. Chuck Garner. Also (former OHS principal Cindy) Hawkins, who was stunning in her support, encouragement, and affirmation within the high school, and the culture she built of winners. It was a perfect spot for me to be in. Mr. Altemeyer has continued and built on that foundation, and it is clear that our high school and the district is probably the best one in the state of Missouri. Mr. Altemeyer has streamlined perfectly (into the environment) and has been an incredible support through all this. He goes above and beyond for all teachers including me.”

Lay said he thanks God for the opportunity and all the people and administrators that were put in place to help him succeed. Especially his wife.

“My wife was an amazing teacher before I even thought about being one,” he said. “I know that one of the reasons the Lord placed Lisa in my life was to inspire me to be a teacher. She showed me that there was a place I could live out my love of science and share that love with other people, with students.”

Not to mention the amazing administrators in Gasconade County R-2 Schools.

“The admin had a plan from even before the No-Tax Increase Bond issue passed in 2015. And that’s where it all got started,” he said. “So it took many people for me to receive this honor. The administration, our staff, our students, and the community.  It’s not just about me, it’s a direct result of all the people who are passionate about students. It’s about those around me that have shown patience with all the teachers and with me. It’s amazing what you get when everyone around you balances encouragement and patience.”

Lay said those same teachers and qualities were what took the robotics program to the state championship.

“It was Mrs. Hawkins and Mr. Altemeyer that nominated me near the end of the previous school year,” Lay said of the regional award.

He was honored with 35 other teachers for the Regional Teacher of the Year Award, which was accepted June 28 during a banquet by Hardy. Lay was on vacation in Hawaii with his family at the time.

He was one of 17 regional semi-finalists. On Tuesday (Aug. 27) he became one of seven finalists for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Award.

Lay said there is a process of questions and interviews that he answered for the regional and semi-finalist phases.

“They ask you about your experiences and some of your best moments, and how you share experiences with the students,” he said. “When they asked me, I was like, ‘oh, yeah, it’s on now!’ Let me tell you about dinosaur bone hunting, and what we do with our STEM classes, and our amazing students in New York and Washington, D.C., and our physics experiences! As soon as the opportunity presented itself, it gave me an opportunity to spread the love, and to show just how amazing our school and students are!”

Lay is scheduled for a live interview Sept. 9 in Jefferson City.

Coming from the science teacher who is famous for his quotes, Lay said, “I am here because of so many others that put their heart into me. People who were patient, kind and passionate about teaching students. I am here because we serve some of the greatest students any teacher can ask for — and they give me my ‘why.’

“These students continue to fuel the fire that I have inside me for this amazing job of teaching. On top of all of that, the teachers here are incredible to serve with, and they make every moment more joyful than the previous one. You couldn’t find a better group of teachers and staff in one building. Our teachers’ spirit, love, and morale would smother any other school’s in a heartbeat! That’s how awesome our staff and students are!” 

The winner of the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Award will be announced at an October banquet.

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