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Amber Sergent named 2023 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year 

embedded-news-amber-sergent-650x750.webpMorehead State University began as a teacher's college and has prepared educators to make an impact in Kentucky and beyond for the last 135 years. The state recently awarded an MSU education alumna one of its highest honors.  

Dr. Amber Sergent (Class of 2001, 2014), a social studies teacher at Woodford County High School, was named Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year for 2023.  

"I will be honest; I have struggled at times with the accolades that have been given to me. There are so many others in our building and in this professional career who deserve such awards," Sergent said. "I have done my best to walk humbly with the attention. Because I do what I do because of not what I receive, but who I am."  

Sergent initially saw herself making an impact in the courtroom instead of the classroom. Originally from Falmouth, Sergent came to MSU and found a place where she enjoyed the scenic surroundings of the Daniel Boone National Forest almost as much as the people who impacted her during her academic journey.  

"I appreciated and respected the attitude and the passion of its professors. They knew and cared for their students. Though they had impressive resumes of academic distinctions, professors at MSU strove to understand and know the students, meeting them and walking alongside them in the learning process of higher education," Sergent said. "I loved my Greek family of sisters (as a member of Gamma Phi Beta), and I still remain in contact with professors, sisters and friends from my MSU days."    

Sergent earned a bachelor's degree in history and government from MSU in 2001 and planned to attend law school. She took a long-term teaching job at an elementary school near her hometown in northern Kentucky. She realized she wanted to pursue a history degree, earning her master's and doctorate degrees in American history from the University of Kentucky (UK).  

Sergent's history education led to her serving as a teaching assistant at UK before becoming an adjunct professor at Northern Kentucky University and Gateway Community and Technical College in Florence. She was also an associate producer for a documentary film for Kentucky Educational Television (KET) on the history of Kentucky.  

Despite her experience primarily in higher education, Sergent said some of that experience drew her back to high school and, eventually, to MSU.  

"I was given the opportunity to teach dual-credit courses through Northern Kentucky University, and I realized how much I enjoyed teaching high school students," she said. "At that time, the state didn't recognize a Ph.D. in content because it's a terminal degree. For public education certification and I needed a master's in secondary education. So, I returned to my alma mater, and I received a master's in secondary education through Morehead State's Option 6 program."  

Earning her master's degree from MSU in 2014, she returned to her home county to teach social studies at Pendelton County High School that same year before taking her current position at Woodford County High School in 2017. In addition to serving as a social studies teacher, she is the high school's ESS coordinator and academic advisor for the high school football team.  

Sergent said many of the contributions she strives to make with her students are just a reflection of the investment MSU professors made in her as an undergraduate and graduate student.  

"To this day, I attribute much of my style and approach to the classroom to Dr. Yvonne Baldwin (Class of 1981), a history professor and department chair of history at MSU. Dr. Baldwin's actions in the classroom were imbued with high expectations, a love of learning, and an unwavering confidence in her students," she said. "When I returned to MSU for my master's in secondary education, I learned more from Duane Lambert (MAT coordinator, Class of 1975) and Marian Sims (MAT assistant program coordinator) than I could ever hope to glean from education textbooks. Their years of experience in the public classroom guided our classroom discussions. To this day, I utilize the strategies that Mr. Lambert and Mrs. Sims taught because they were insistent about constantly thinking about my role in the high school classroom, serving as a guide and urging my students to embark on their own journeys in American history."  

While this recognition was a pleasant surprise, Sergent said it isn't nearly as rewarding as conveying her passion for history to students while showing them care and encouragement.  

"'Kids these days' may forget the content of my history courses, but they will never forget how we make them feel," she said. "If I have achieved any success as an effective educator, it's because my inspiration and my love come from those resilient and compassionate 'kids these days' who embrace vulnerability and practice courage every day."  

To learn more about programs in the Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education, contact ad.miller@moreheadstate.edu or 606-783-2162

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