Professional News

National Archives, UK Libraries to present Earle C. Clements Award to Kentucky educators

Gov. Clements on left and man on right in black and white
The Clements Award recognizes promising and innovative Kentucky K-12 educators and honors the life and career of Earle C. Clements and his lifelong commitment to education and public service. Clements (left) is seen here during his time as governor.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 2, 2022) — The National Archives and the University of Kentucky Libraries Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center will present the 2022 Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Award to three Kentucky teachers: Peyton Barnhill of Flat Lick Elementary School, Kelly Beckett of Royal Spring Middle School, and Brandon Forshey of Summit View Academy.

The awards ceremony, which recognizes the state’s best educators in history and/or civics, will begin 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at the Special Collections Research Center Great Hall in the Margaret I. King Library. A reception will immediately follow the event.

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. Bess Abell, Clements’ daughter, was both a board member of the Foundation for the National Archives and an alumna of the University of Kentucky.

Chosen by an independent review panel, Clements Award applicants are judged on the following criteria: the 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.

“As a young girl in Kentucky public school system, I had life-changing teachers," said Special Collections Research Center Director Deirdre Scaggs. "It’s a privilege to honor today’s Kentucky educators who are influencing a generation of children who will become tomorrow’s leaders.”

Peyton Barnhill earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UK in 2020. He teaches fifth and sixth grade social studies at Flat Lick Elementary School, where he is an academic team coach, Governor’s Cup coordinator, Unite Club scholar, Student Technology Leadership program leader and coordinates the school’s homecoming. He was selected by the Board of Education and superintendent to write the social studies curriculum for use in schools in the Knox County School District. 

“Having this young man as a role model for our students is exactly what we needed at this school,” said Flat Lick Elementary School Principal Jason Cornett. “It is obvious he has a love of learning and the level of commitment necessary to succeed in the workplace and beyond. He has become a great asset to this classroom as well as to his school and community.”

Kelly Beckett has been in education for 13 years, serving in a variety of roles. She worked with students in every grade level through her role in an English Language Learner program and the Special Education unit. She has proudly worked in Scott County Schools for the past three years at Royal Spring Middle School teaching sixth grade world history and eighth grade U.S. history. This past school year she was awarded the Teacher of the Year award and accepted a new role as assistant principal. She is a part of her district curriculum team and works part time as the executive director of the Kentucky Council for Social Studies, a nonprofit that supports social studies teachers across the state. She recently graduated with her education specialist degree and is now certified to work as a principal, supervisor of curriculum and instruction, and as director of pupil personnel. 

“It is a true honor to be awarded the Clements Award,” Beckett said. “Social studies teachers are assisting their students in bridging the past with our present. They are teaching students how to think critically and to understand how the past should help to guide their futures. My goal as a social studies teacher is to inspire involvement in our democracy. I try to show them that public service and civic duty are not only essential to our nation but enriching experiences for them as young teens. I am so appreciative of the University of Kentucky and the Clements family for this recognition; it truly is an honor to receive an award named after one of Kentucky’s greatest leaders.”

Brandon Forshey is entering his seventh year in education and has been teaching in Kentucky for the past four years. Over his career, he has taught: U.S. government, U.S. history, world history, world geography, AP world history, AP European history and AP psychology. He has moved from teaching at Beechwood High School to sixth grade social studies at Summit View Academy in Kenton County Schools. He was recently accepted as one of 120 teachers, nationally, into the National History Day Teaching with Primary Sources with the Library of Congress Seminar Series. Forshey has earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies education and is working on his master’s degree in educational leadership through Eastern Kentucky University, with an anticipated completion of summer 2023. 

“I am overwhelmingly honored to be a recipient of this year’s Clements Award,” Forshey said. “I strive to make my classroom a place where every student can find pieces of history they love and want to explore for the rest of their lives. I feel that we as educators succeed when we create lifelong learners out of our students, and I try to do this through creative and interactive activities and projects. This recognition just reminds me and allows me to reflect on why this approach can increase and develop the historian in each of my students.”

Created in 1934, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 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 Collection 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.

As the premier research library in the Commonwealth, UK Libraries empowers lifelong learners to discover, create and connect by providing ever-expanding access to quality information and collaborating with academic and creative communities worldwide to advance knowledge, enhance scholarship and preserve the history and culture of the Commonwealth. More information about UK Libraries can be found on its website.

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.