Professional News

UK Libraries honors Kentucky civics and history teachers with Clements Award

Dion Copeland and Cody Foster, recipients of the Clements Award (recipients Rachel Hubbard and Brandon Riddle not pictured).

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 9, 2023) — The National Archives and the UK Libraries Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center honored four Kentucky teachers with the 2023 Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Award on Tuesday, Aug. 1.  

Dion Copeland of Fayette County Public Schools, Cody Foster of Sayre School, Rachel Carrier Hubbard of Union County Middle School and Brandon Riddle of Seneca High School were celebrated during an awards ceremony in the Great Hall of the Special Collections Research Center

The Clements Award recognizes history and civics teachers across Kentucky who demonstrate a marked impact on student success, display great creativity and innovation in the classroom, and show a decided commitment to increasing student awareness of the importance of public service.

The award honors the legacy of the late governor, representative, and senator, Earle C. Clements. During his long and distinguished political career, Clements embodied a spirit of service, a dedication to public life, and a commitment to productive political discourse. Clements was a lifelong advocate of improved education. 

This year’s winners teach at all levels and come from all corners of the Commonwealth:

Copeland graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Secondary Education and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Education from Midway University. Copeland began his teaching career in 2021 as an 8th grade U.S. History teacher in Lexington. He is a recipient of the Fayette County Educators Association Teaching Excellence Award and the Kentucky Education Association Diversity Lesson Plan Award. He is a member of the National Education Association's Cohort of Leaders for Just Schools.

“Receiving the Clements Innovation in Education award as an early career educator is truly exceptional. I hope to motivate more men of color to enter careers in education. We bring unique perspectives and innovative approaches to teaching and learning that are truly transformative for students of all backgrounds.”

Foster graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Ph.D. in History and began teaching at Sayre School in 2021. He teaches AP U.S. Government and Politics, World Historyand other civics and history electives to 9th-12th grade students. He is the director of the school’s KYMCA program where he coaches students on state, national and international governmental processes and brings them to the Kentucky United Nations Assembly and Kentucky Youth Assembly each year.

“In an age where educators must nervously approach contentious issues, the students, parents, and administrators at Sayre School hold firm that a true study of the past is not only necessary to understanding our present moment, but essential for preparing young minds for what the future can hold. This award demonstrates my commitment to these principles and I am grateful for the recognition."

Hubbard holds Bachelor’s degrees in Broadcasting and Secondary Education from Western Kentucky University and completed her Master’s in Educational Administration degree from Murray State in 2020. Over her seven year career she has taught U.S. History, World History, Geography and AP Psychology and Reading. She taught most recently at Union County Middle School in her hometown of Morganfield. 

“Receiving this award is truly humbling, and it serves as a testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion that I have poured into being a social studies educator. I am grateful to the members of the award committee for recognizing my contributions and considering me worthy of this award.” 

Riddle holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Louisville. He has taught in Jefferson County high schools since 2009 and at Seneca High School since 2016. He is a National Board-Certified teacher and in 2020 was named the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year. Riddle serves on Seneca’s Racial Equity Committee and will begin his fifth year as the sponsor for Seneca’s Black Student Union.

“Given the current status of our democracy, our work is certainly more important than ever. Educators need to be committed to providing students with the civic dispositions and knowledge they'll need to continue the never-ending work of protecting and improving our democracy. Being recognized as someone who is engaged in these efforts is something I am extremely proud of.”

UK Libraries is proud to honor Clements’ legacy through annual fellowships, awards, and events, all of which are made possible by the generous gifts of his daughter, Bess Clements Abell, her husband Tyler Abell, and their two sons, Dan and Lyndon. Bess and her family have been longtime supporters of UK Libraries, and their gifts ensure the continued promotion of the ideals that Clements championed. 

The National Archives is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our government, so people can discover, use and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers and presidential libraries, and on the internet at

The Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center preserves the history of Kentucky politics and government and provides access to primary source materials pertaining to public policy and the US Congress. Utilized by scholars around the world, the collection has been recognized as one of the finest and most thorough public policy repositories in the United States. The Ford Center works closely with faculty with public policy teaching and research interests and collaborates with UK’s Martin School of Public Policy & Administration and the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center in Owensboro, Kentucky.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.