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iMeet

Rounding out Teacher Appreciation Month, iList presents Stacy Thomas, the Youth Services Director at McCracken County HS. While Stacy is not a teacher, her role is no less important. She is a woman of faith who loves to travel - and she’s trying to convince her personal trainer that French fries, Mexican food, and pizza need to be on her diet plan! iMeet this amazing woman who makes a difference in the lives of students.

Continuing with honoring educators this month, iList welcomes Paul Walker. Paul is an associate professor of English at Murray State University. He is trying to add on a new title this fall…congressman. He is a proud father of three who can’t pick just one favorite book but can pick his favorite pizza. iMeet a teacher who tries to make a difference in each of his students’ lives.

iList continues the theme of education and educators for Teacher Appreciation Month. This week we’re chatting with Laurie Edminster from Murray High School. She’s an English teacher involved with countless extra-curricular activities. This mother of three says The Grapes of Wrath might be her all-time favorite book. iMeet a teacher who goes above and beyond her job description for her students.

Welcome to iMeet, Laurie. We’re glad to feature you as part of Teacher Appreciation Month. Tell us about yourself...

I live in Murray and work at Murray High School, where I have taught English for the past 18 years. We moved to Murray in 2000 from Clemson, South Carolina, where I also taught high school English. I have taught in Waco, Texas, as well.

I graduated from high school in SouthCarolina in 1984 and attended Clemson for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. My parents both worked in education  - my father was a college basketball coach and high school administrator. My mother was a district office assistant and transportation secretary.

Even as a young girl, I knew that I wanted to teach – when I was 5 years old, I would line my stuffed animals and dolls up in rows on the floor, and pretend to teach. I jokingly tell my students that I have been teaching for 47 years!

Seriously, though, in my 29 years of teaching, I have taught every grade from 7th-12th, the subjects including English I-IV, drama, creative writing, reading and study skills, Southern literature, speech, composition, AP Literature, and AP Language. I also teach dual credit courses through Murray State University, EDU 104 and EDP 260, while occasionally teaching English Education students on campus at MSU.

Tell us about your family...

I have been married to my husband Warren for soon-to-be 27 years. We have three daughters: Ashlee (22), Lauren (20), and Hannah (17). Our shelter kitty Misty has been with us for 13 years. Ashlee and Lauren both attend Murray State and are pursuing teaching degrees, while Hannah is a senior at Murray High School. She will also be attending MSU in the fall. Hannah is interested in becoming either a special education teacher or a youth counselor.

We hear you have a daughter who is getting married soon...are you in the midst of crazy wedding planning?

Yes, my oldest child is getting married in July, so we are in full blown wedding planning mode.  All of the prom planning that I have done through the years is coming in handy! Ashlee is a dynamo in organizing.

Tell us about your position at Murray High School...

I currently teach English 2, AP Language and Composition, English 3 Honors, and EDU 104/EDP 260. For the past 15 years (I think), I have been the student council sponsor at Murray High, and for the past 6 years, I have been the prom coordinator. 

I also teach an after-school ACT reading workshop on Mondays from January to March. I sponsor the Dawg Pound, Murray High’s pep club. This is my last year working with student council, but I intend to help out when needed. 

Being involved and investing in student life outside the classroom is important to me. I’m sure I have embarrassed my students screaming for them at a ballgame or band competition, and I am certain that my pep rally antics have mortified my own children. Some of my favorite moments as a teacher involve going to school with my daughters. I won’t know what to do next year without a child in high school with me!

You teach every summer with the Commonwealth Honors Academy. Tell us about that and why you do it...

I spend four weeks of my summer working with Murray State’s Commonwealth Honors Academy, a program for rising high school seniors. I love everything about this program; I get to teach in a genuine living, learning community, designing my own curriculum. 

The faculty and students interact in every aspect of “college life.”  We eat together, live in the dorm together, and attend extracurricular events together. Students take two courses, an elective course and an interdisciplinary humanities/fine arts course.

These classes are founded on a traditional subject but apply the content in a creative way. For example, I am teaching a slam poetry course this summer and I can’t wait to get started. I have worked with the program for 16 years. Each year is different, one of the many reasons why I love it so much. We have students from all over the country attend the academy.

May is Teacher Appreciation Month. Tell us about a teacher that made a difference in your life...

Each of my English teachers inspired me to read and write and learn, but my senior AP English Literature teacher, Wanda Fowler, had a rock-star quality like no other. She orchestrated discussions that were masterful, pulling in the timid students and reigning in the boisterous ones.  More importantly, she took us on adventures through reading and writing about literature. She treated us like scholars. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wanted to do for others what she had done for us.

What's the most important reason that you became a teacher?

The most important reason that I became and remain a teacher is that I believe in the hope and energy of young people. Every generation needs their passion and idealism. They are the world-changers, the peace-seekers, the hope-carriers, and they need someone to teach them, to build them up, to believe in them, and to set them on their journey into the future.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My free time is spent with my family and friends, singing praise and worship songs, cheering on students at ballgames, reading, and watching Netflix!

This will be a tough one...favorite book of all-time and why?

As an English teacher, having to pick one book as a favorite is next to impossible, but I’ll give it a go. The Grapes of Wrath is poetry in prose form. The form and structure of the novel are genius, alternating plot and intercalary chapters, character development so realistic and dialogue as moving as scripture. The love, the tragedy, the sacrifices, the hope – it is life bound in a timeless cover on pages that are new each time I read it.

Any plans to retire any time soon? 

LOL – no.  While I have been teaching for 29 years, I have only been working in Kentucky for 18 years, so I have 9 years to go, but I wouldn’t be ready to retire yet even if I could. I still love teaching, and I simply cannot imagine doing anything else for a living.

Thanks for being our iMeet this week, Laurie. We want you to know how much we appreciate you and all teachers.

WKCTC Student of the Year

May is Teacher Appreciation month, and iList is devoting the iMeets to education. Gavin Posey is a WKCTC student who has had plenty of teachers he appreciated. He was recently named “WKCTC’s Student of the Year” and couldn’t be more thrilled. He will be transferring to Murray State University this fall. iMeet this exemplary student!

Welcome to iMeet, Gavin. Tell us about yourself...

Paducah, Kentucky has been my home for twenty years. I grew up in the Lone Oak school system and attended Hendron Lone Oak Elementary and Lone Oak Middle. From there, I attended the last year of Lone Oak High, and graduated in the third class of McCracken County High.

Enrolling at West Kentucky Community and Technical College has been a blessing, in part, because I have had the opportunity to continue adding to our community here at home. Because this is my last semester at WKCTC, I will take what I have learned from my experiences to Murray State University.

We hear you are a triplet!

Growing up, I was known as one of the Posey Triplets. Mason, my brother, and Brooke, my sister, were always in my same groups. I can remember one year of recreational soccer when we chose the numbers 1, 2, and 3 - in order of our birth. I’m the youngest, so I also grew up as the baby. Since then, Mason and Brooke have let up on the fact that I’m the youngest!

 

And you’re a soccer player…

My childhood was spent reading and playing sports. I began playing soccer when I was four years old. My soccer career wrapped up my senior year of high school; my friends try to get me to play every now and then, but I’m usually busy with assignments or extracurricular activities. My friends know I promised to play a game or two before I transfer to Murray next semester. I also ran cross country and track for a number of years.

We hear that WKCTC is a family tradition…

My family always has something going on. Mason, Brooke, and I are in our second year of school at WKCTC. Mason and I will graduate this May with Associate in Science degrees. Brooke will graduate in a year with an Associate in Applied Science for Nursing. My dad, Scott, has begun his first semester at WKCTC studying Computer and Information Technologies. Attending the community college is somewhat of a family tradition; my mom finished two years of school at Paducah Community College, as did my nana, Elaine Smith.

What have you been studying at WKCTC?

I am earning an Associate in Science in a little over a week! The commencement ceremony will be on May 5th, and I have been asked to speak at both ceremonies because of my selection on the KCTCS All-Academic Team. Megan Truitt and I will both speak.

Next semester, I will attend MSU. This is a big change for me, and I am excited to try something different. I will study Organizational Communication and look to graduate with a Bachelor of Science. I’m the second in the family to attend MSU - my mom graduated with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

So, you were recently named WKCTC's Student of the Year recently. Congrats! What was it like to receive the award?

I have been humbled to receive Student of the Year at WKCTC. My past year, especially, has prepared me to be a better leader. Coming into WKCTC, I was not as engaged, was not sure what I wanted to get involved in, and did not fully know what I was capable of achieving. With much support, I have seen myself and others around me develop.

Our community and technical college enables students to become the best versions of themselves, and I am one of many stories of our institution’s continued success. Through recognition as Student of the Year, I feel that my efforts in leading the student body have been successful, and student leadership will continue to improve once my tenure on campus is through.

What advice would you give to other students entering college?

As I near the end of my education here in Paducah, I would share to those looking to transfer after completing their credential to enjoy their time at home. I mentioned earlier how I have been fortunate to share an extra two years with my family, enjoy homemade meals, watch TV together, and enjoy each other’s company.

Murray isn’t that far away, but it’ll be a transition to me. I tell my friends my brother has been my best roommate since we’ve shared a room with each other for 20 years!

In addition to this, I have made efforts, over the past year especially, for students at our college to enjoy the ride. School is likely stressful for most students. Finding a group of friends you can learn from and enjoy being around means the world. If you need some help, just come by the Student Government office inside the Student Center!

Last, students should know the employees at our school care about our successes as students. I shared in a different article earlier in the semester about being at WKCTC, as a student, as faculty, or as staff, means you are committed to achieving great things. We all grow together.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Lately, I have been trying to make time to read. The book I am reading right now is Profiles in Courage by President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy wrote this book before his Presidency as a means of showing acts of courage from senators he admired. At the time, Kennedy was a recently appointed senator of Massachusetts. I enjoy reading about those Kennedy admired, because Kennedy was an admirable man himself.

What was your favorite class at WKCTC?

My favorite course across four semesters at WKCTC has been Basic Public Speaking. I tried so hard to be funny in my speeches, and I’m not sure I did that well. One day, I brought in cookies for a demonstration speech - I learned most people preferred food over laughter.

The course helped me come out of my shell and feel more confident about speaking in front of large groups. With newfound confidence, I found myself in positions including: president of the Student Government Association, vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and a student ambassador of WKCTC. My biggest elected position was becoming student co-president and regent of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Without enrolling in Basic Public Speaking my first semester, I’m not sure I would have tried applying myself to this capacity.

If you had to say who has been your most important role model, who would it be?

It is very difficult to single out one role model for me. My biggest role models have always been my parents. I have so much to learn from both of my parents, and I believe as I have grown over the past two years, they have grown with me. My whole family supports me and I’m very thankful for it.

You have one day to spend doing all the things that make you happiest. Tell us about that day…

My perfect day would start early. My closest friends and I would drive somewhere new to make it to a concert. Obviously, we would have close seats and get there early. This is all while checking out the city and seeing new places. After this, I would head to a NBA game. The Los Angeles Clippers were my favorite team until this year. One of the pictures I shared is of me and Doc Rivers, a former Clipper and current head coach of the organization. Now, I root for Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets - I guess that makes me a bandwagon fan. After this, I would just enjoy socializing with friends and family. I’m happiest when I can slow down and enjoy what’s around me. Because it’s my day, my friends and family would join me for Gold Rush cafe’s bread pudding waffles and bacon, followed by cookies at Kirchhoff’s. How can you have a bad day after waffles and cookies?

April Dunning is a Physician’s Assistant with Mercy Pediatrics. She enjoys helping families and getting to know their stories. She loves her family and her church - most of all of her free time being devoted to both. iMeet this sports-loving mom who can help your children stay well!

Welcome to iMeet. April. Tell us a little about yourself...

I grew up in La Center and graduated from Ballard Memorial High School. After high school, I played college basketball for four years at Bethel University. After graduating there, I attended the University of Kentucky for my degree in Physician Assistant Studies.

Tell us about your family...

I am married to John Dunning and we have two children, Kendrick (10) and Kambell (8). We have a dog, Max, who is a rescue from a local shelter.

You’ve been with Mercy pediatrics for a long time, April…tell us about your job…

I am a Physician Assistant with Mercy Pediatrics, where I've worked for almost 18 years. I started with this group in 2000 under the direction of Dr. James Shumaker, a pediatrician who practiced in Paducah for over 35 years when he retired. 

We joined Lourdes and Mercy Health sometime around 2009 and moved into our current location on Lone Oak Road, across from Hannan Plaza, in 2014. We now have four providers: myself, Dr. Rachel Lowdenback, and Dr. Holly Payne, and psychologist Dr. Emily Brame-Thomas.

My first job was in a rural family medicine clinic in Ballard. I worked there for three years before I joined Dr. Shumaker. I took a break from that office for about a year while I worked for Dr. John Cecil at his clinic. I am very grateful for the opportunity he gave me during that time. I loved private practice so much that I wanted to come back to my original office and have been at Mercy Pediatrics ever since.

What’s a typical day like for you in Pediatric care?

With pediatrics, it certainly varies. In the winter, there are lots of sick kids. Then in the spring and summer, its well-visits and getting kids ready for back to school.

Unfortunately, we also see a lot of behavioral and mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression, which seems to be getting more and more prominent in kids these days. For this reason, I am thankful to have psychologist Dr. Emily Brame-Thomas integrated into our practice to see the children suffering from these issues.

I love helping families and getting to know them and their story. We do so much more for our kids and families than just treat the one illness, or provide a few checkups. I am thankful to have the opportunity to impact the lives of our patients and families.

I feel God has blessed me with this talent and I hope that I am using it every day for His glory and that I make Him smile. If I have done that in my "typical day," then I have fulfilled my purpose.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, it is all about my family and my church. Both of my kids are involved in sports: baseball, basketball, volleyball and softball. So, most weekends in the spring and summer, we are packing the car up for a weekend ball tournament somewhere. It is my favorite time of year!

On my afternoon off, I try to volunteer at my kids’ school. I have been on two mission trips to Thailand. Sharing what God has done for me and for others through his Son Jesus is the most important message I can tell.

You visited Thailand last year as part of a mission trip…tell us about that…

Dr. Christopher Sperry and I spent ten days in different cities throughout Northeast Thailand, providing medical care to those without access to doctors or routine medical care. Between myself, Dr. Sperry, and Dr. Doug, a local missionary physician who has been in Thailand for 23 years, we saw between 150-250 patients per day.

All of these patients had health issues, ranging from blood pressure problems, to intestinal issues, to musculoskeletal complaints. Many of the medical supplies given to their patients to help with their symptoms were donated by Mercy Health.

God has given me the gift/talent of practicing medicine. I want to use it for His glory. Whether I am serving people here in my daily job at Mercy Pediatrics - or in another country - I want people to know of God’s love for them and be used as a vessel to relay this message.

It's 10 pm on a Friday night; what might we find you doing?

Packing the car up for the weekend! Or I'm asleep - 10 pm is late for me!

If you were a flavor of ice cream, which would you be?

Coffee, probably, because it is yummy and my kids hate it so I wouldn't have to share!

Thanks for sharing your work and love of God with us on iMeet this week, April. We’re glad you are here to help our kids and local families.

Denim on Denim at the AQS show

Ian Berry is just a regular “bloke” from a small village just outside Huddersfield in the north of England. He has irregular art that has made him a name in this town.. this week! He is artist who works with denim to create incredible dimensional works of art. Ian has just finished a huge installation which is on display at the Quilt Show in Paducah. iMeet a fellow Brit who is definitely not a quilter!

Welcome to iMeet Ian, and to Paducah Kentucky, Tell us a little about yourself…

I was born and raised in Huddersfield in England. Its a town in the north of England, away from the capital - like Paducah - quite an industrial and multicultural area of the country. My parents were both college teachers and after high school I studied graphic design and advertising at University. They dissuaded me from going to art college.

I traveled to Australia and lived and worked there a while and then lived in Sweden for 7 years. I currently live in London, England with my wife, Asa and my four year son, Elliott.

And you’re a unique artist who works with denim…how did you get started?

Yes, everyone always wants to know how I got started working with denim. After university my parents knew I wasn’t coming back to Huddersfield, and that I was planning to move to London. I went home one Easter and my mum had cleaned out my room. (I like to embellish the story by saying she found naughty magazines and stuff…)

She just piled all my old jeans and denim shirts, and stuff in the middle of my room.

While at university I had been doing a portrait of Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minster, out of newspaper. I used the shades of black, white and printed words to get all the textures and shading into the picture.

So back to the pile of jeans…I saw all the old jeans that I couldn’t fit into any more and they were all different shades and it occurred to me I could use them to get more texture as well as shading.

The Paducah Art Alliance brought you out here. What do you think of the resurgence of the art scene in Paducah?

I’d like to thank the Paducah Art Alliance for bringing me out here. With a "special thank” you to Rosemarie Steele for introducing me to so many amazing and kind people. Its been very interesting to see the role that art has played in the regeneration of the city.

After driving from New York and seeing places such as Richmond, Virginia, Greensboro and Asheville, North Carolina its great to also know that regeneration has really changed these areas.

What have you been up to since you’ve been in Paducah?

I’ve been here for about ten days and and have been able to make many presentations to the students at both McCracken County High School and Paducah Tilghman High school. I’ve also spoken to college students at the Paducah School of Art and Design.

Mostly, I’ve been at the Expo Center putting together the installation…its been a massive job but I think its turned out really well! I’m excited to see how it was received.

Its been an amazing experience where so many people invited me for dinner at their homes, for good southern hospitality, or to Dry Ground, Mellow Mushroom or Paducah Beer Werks.

This is a large installation that looks like a street of shops…have you done this before?

Originally I was just going to bring a collection of my work and display it at the Quilt Show. But, so much had been sold prior to the show I decided to bring these pieces of my art that were scattered around the states and combine them for a large installation. 

The garden was in New York, the Launderette was in a gallery in New Orleans and the record shop is actually sold and was in London with a client (who turned into a good friend). I put together as much as I could. This is probably the largest installation of my work I’ve ever done at one time.

I’ve seen pictures of your studio and the floor is covered with jeans and denim. Where do you get it all from?

First it was my jeans. Then it was my friends jeans and then their friends jeans… then people heard about me and I started to get packages of jeans mailed to me. Then people would just leave bags of old jeans and denim on my door step.

I also got them from thrift shops, vintage stores, and I even bought them new if they had a really nice wash in it.

But now a lot of denim brands send me jeans and denim to use. So, its like having a huge pot of paint to incorporate instead of little tubes.

Are there any particular types of jeans you like to work with?

Heavily washed and laundry washed  - industrial laundry so that they have lots of color variation. I like when larger people give them so i get more material!

How do you choose the scenes you portray in your art? Why a launderette for instance

All my work is about community - that’s the underlying theme. The lack of it in big cities. In the past your support network was all around you, and while you might have a community of friends online one many people feel isolated.

I’ve been surprised what a lovely community Paducah is and its been really nice to spend time with people and not just communicate online. so it shattered all my concept!

We heard you don’t like to drive on the “wrong” side of the road!

Yes, American Cars are really big - but, as I found out, not big enough to fit eight, 2 x 4’s and a ton of plywood in! Paducah is a nightmare to drive around with weird one way systems! I guess it is quilt week.

What has been the best part of your trip to Paducah?

Everyone I’ve met - the whole town is so friendly. Its been amazing to meet the teachers and artists that live in the region especially, John Romang, Mitch Kimball, Shand Stamper, Paul Lorenz, Randy Simmons and Shandon Simmons really impressed me. Its amazing to meet both great artists that are great people.

Some of the kids from the high school came over to the Expo center and helped me build the exhibit - they were amazing. Thanks John, Julian and Sam for all your hard work! Its a huge privilege to be able to go into schools and speak to some of them. The only bad thing is it took me back to school days which feels so long ago now!

What’s your favorite color?

Wait for it….blue! But not because of denim. My hometown soccer club wears blue - and I’m a big supporter. Blue Army! Huddersfield Town, who look like we will survive our first premier league season!

What’s your favorite food

Your husband’s chinese - followed by his Indian! No seriously, no wonder he writes iCook! The beer at Paducah Beer Werks and Dry grounds was good too, although I struggled the day after the Paducah Hot Chicken!

I’ve had lots of people say that they have seen Ian’s work online and cant believe how amazing it is in person. So, take it from iList, you have got to get down to the Quilt show - yes we just told you to go to the quilt show - and see Ian’s work in person.

Ian Berry, thank you for making the list office such a for place for two weeks. We might have overheard you talking to the Quilt Museum about having a show all of your own here in Paducah. We can’t wait!

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