Professional News

6 Kentucky Civics, History Teachers Honored at Clements Awards Aug. 9

Left to right (top row) Jennifer Barlow, Aaron Cain, Brenda Fairchild; (bottom row) Ryan Lewis, Ashley Milar, Gerald (Gary) Morris
The Clements Award recognizes promising and innovative Kentucky K-12 educators and honors the life and career of the late Earle C. Clements and his lifelong commitment to education and public service. Clements (left) seen here during his time as governor.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 3, 2021) — Next week the National Archives and the University of Kentucky Libraries Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center will present the 2021 Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Awards to six Kentucky teachers: Jennifer Barlow, of Burgin Independent School; Aaron Cain, of Henry Clay High School; Brenda Fairchild, of Johnson County Middle School; Ryan Lewis, of Woodford County High School; Ashley Milar, of Fort Wright Elementary School; and Gary Morris, of McLean County High School.

The awards program, which recognizes the state’s best educators in history and/or civics, will begin 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, at the Great Hall in the Margaret I. King Library Building. A reception will immediately follow the event. 

Those interested in attending may RSVP for both events, which 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. 

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.

Jennifer Barlow is starting her 19th year in education and has been teaching at Burgin Independent School for seven years. She is the current adviser for the Student Y, National Honor Society and Student Council, where she leads mock school elections, student body president elections and voter registration drives. 

Student body president Doug Brown said Barlow, “personally registered every student who was of voting age and teaches students about the importance of voting. Ms. Barlow’s job is to teach history and civics, but she made it her job to teach students how to be good citizens.” 

Aaron Cain, of Lexington, is an alumnus of Tates Creek High School and UK College of Education and has been teaching at Henry Clay High School since 2013. He has served as coach and sponsor for several clubs and organizations, including the student council, the “bee club” and the e-sports team.

“Mr. Cain’s enthusiasm is not just for show; it produces academic and social results. His student’s AP test scores on the whole always exceed the national average, usually by a significant margin,” said Steven K. Riley, chair of the social studies department at Henry Clay High School. 

Brenda Fairchild has been teaching for 30 years at Johnson County, where she has taught at Flat Gap Elementary and Johnson County Middle School. Fairchild works to provide a safe environment where her students are invited to share their ideas and take risks. Over the past year, Fairchild engaged with students by going on virtual field trips to the National Archives, Mount Vernon and more.

“Brenda Fairchild’s well-rounded character complements her professional achievements,” Johnson County Middle School Assistant Principal Missy Davis said. “I could hardly imagine a candidate that would prove more talented, more capable, more caring or more enthusiastic.” 

Ryan Lewis is from Morehead, Kentucky, and serves as chair of the social studies department at Woodford County High School. Lewis is enrolled in UK’s Social Studies ProTeach doctoral cadre, recently publishing an article on a framework for making persuasive claims in Social Education, the flagship journal from the National Council for the Social Studies. 

“Social studies educators throughout the country, including me, will be using this framework to guide students in developing the habits of mind of a disciplined social scientist,” said Kathy Swan, UK professor of curriculum and instruction. “Ryan is really the gold standard for history and civics teachers.” 

Ashley Milar earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UK and a master’s degree with an emphasis in gifted education from Northern Kentucky University. She has taught fifth grade for 12 years and currently teaches at Fort Wright Elementary, where she strives to build relationships and make her classroom a safe, risk-taking environment.

“Mrs. Milar is lovingly known as ‘the history expert’ and ‘a ray of sunshine’ that lives for the moments where social studies content is learned to see the pride and excitement in the eyes of her students,” Fort Wright Elementary School Principal Tina Wartman said. 

Gerald (Gary) Morris has been teaching for 23 years and currently serves as chair of the social studies department at McLean County High School, where he has taught U.S. history, World War II history, law and justice, AP European History, AP Government and Politics and other courses. In 2010, Morris founded the school’s moot court team, the only program in Kentucky to compete, as well as be named a semifinalist, at the national level. 

“Mr. Morris cares greatly about history, as well as being an outstanding and innovative teacher in his field,” said Javin Burnett, one of Morris’s former students.

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.

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