Campus News

3 Kentucky Civics, History Teachers Honored at Clements Awards Aug. 8

black and white photo of Governor Earle C. Clements seated at desk
photo of Ashley McGaughey at the Colosseum in Rome
headshot photo of Donnie Wilkerson in front of bookshelf
photo of Chris Workman in front of railing

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 7, 2019) Tomorrow the National Archives and the University of Kentucky Libraries Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center will present the 2019 Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Awards to three Kentucky teachers: Ashley McGaughey, of Spencer County Middle School; Donnie Wilkerson, of Jamestown Elementary; and Chris Workman, of Waco Elementary. The awards program, which will recognize the state’s best educators in history and/or civics, will begin 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Great Hall in the Margaret I. King Library Building. A reception will immediately follow the event. Both events are free and open to the public.

The Clements Award honors the life and career of Earle C. Clements and his lifelong commitment to education and public service. Clements’ political career included service as a county sheriff, clerk and judge; terms in the state senate and as governor; and terms in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, where he was a close colleague to future President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Chosen by an independent review panel, Clements Award applicants are judged on the following criteria: ability to demonstrate knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the subject and commitment to increasing student awareness of the importance of public service; expertise in civics and history content and the ability to share it with students; impact on student success; and evidence of creativity and innovation.

Clements Award recipients are selected from history and/or civics (social studies) teachers throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

A proud graduate of Spencer County Public Schools, seventh grade teacher Ashley Marie McGaughey has taught history and literacy at Spencer County Middle School since 2010. She received her bachelor's degree from Lindsey Wilson College in 2009, her master’s degree from University of the Cumberlands in 2012. A finalist for Kentucky Teacher of the Year in 2017, McGaughey has a passion for igniting students’ love of history and believes that history instruction can be meaningful and fun. When not in school, she loves spending time with her extended family, and credits her grandparents Larry and Bea and her parents Ronnie and Kay for instilling a strong work ethic and love of community that is at the heart of her classroom.

Spencer County Middle language arts teacher Amanda Jacobson had this to say about McGaughey's innovative and creative teaching style. "From sneaking around the school’s halls like knights on the Crusade, to hosting a speech contest for the best Greek mythological character, to coloring pages taped under their desks so they can experience Michelangelo’s challenge of painting of the Sistine Chapel, Ms. McGaughey’s students see learning in a new way: a way that removes them from traditional learning experiences and transforms them into historians. This leaves them with not only the content they should know but also hands-on and meaningful experience with it."

Donnie Wilkerson is a fifth-grade social studies teacher at Jamestown Elementary School in Russell County. A 1977 graduate of Western Kentucky University, Jamestown civic leader, former businessman and mayor, he came to teaching late in his career. Wilkerson received his MAT from Eastern Kentucky University in 2007 and is now in his 16th year learning from his fifth grade “grand kids.” As a leader and trainer in his school and district he is a regular presenter at schools and conferences. In 2010, he received the Ashland Teacher Achievement Award and in 2011 was recognized as the Gilder Lehrman/Kentucky Historical Society Kentucky History Teacher of the Year. Donnie Wilkerson was a recipient of the Secretary of State Outstanding Civic Educator Award in 2016. He is happily married to his wife of 45 years, Rhonda. They have one son, Trey, a recent graduate of UK College of Law and a 1-year-old granddaughter, Olivia Jade.

Wilkerson's passion for teaching is not only captivating for his students, but also his administrators. "When I visit his room, I find myself reluctant to leave. He is engaging, accepting, incredibly kind and a masterful teacher," said Diane S. Blankenship, principal of Jamestown Elementary.

As a nontraditional student working full time and fulfilling family, civic and community responsibilities, Chris Workman depended heavily on the support of his wife and family as he completed undergraduate study at Midway University obtaining a bachelor's degree in education with a minor in psychology and areas of emphasis in social studies and English and language arts. Workman is currently finishing his graduate studies at Midway University where he is pursuing a master's degree in educational leadership and a minor in English. He has taught fifth grade social studies and reading for two years at Madison County's Waco Elementary, where he and his wife attended elementary school. In his short time at Waco, Workman has already started an award-winning Waco Junior Historical Society program.

One of Workman's students, Foster Banks, credits his teacher with helping him fall in love with history and spurring his interest in becoming a documentarian for the History Channel in the future. "Mr. Workman is more than a teacher. He is a fellow historian, counselor, and much more. Because of Mr. Workman, I am the person I am today."   

Created in 1934, the National Archives and Records Administration is responsible for preserving and providing access to the records of the U.S. Government. NARA has more than 40 facilities across the country, including 14 Presidential Libraries, containing more than 10 billion pages of textual records; 42 million photographs; miles and miles of film and video; and an ever-increasing number of electronic records. For more information, visit

The Special Collections Research Center at UK Libraries sustains the Commonwealth's memory and serves as the essential bridge between past, present and future. By preserving materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of Kentucky, the center provides rich opportunities for students to expand their worldview and enhance their critical thinking skills. Special Collections Research Center materials are used by scholars worldwide to advance original research and pioneer creative approaches to scholarship. UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, the John G. Heyburn Initiative and ExploreUK.