• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Teacher of the Year: Technology opens 'so many doors' for students

MEGHAN BOTTOM, technology integration specialist for the Woodford County Public Schools, offered assistance to Huntertown Elementary School teachers Angela Bentley, front, and Teresa Currens, far right. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Being a technology integration specialist gives Meghan Bottom opportunities to offer guidance to teachers and students in schools across the district. She'll sometimes help teach students in a class or she'll troubleshoot for technical issues with devices or provide training to teachers so they are more confident in using technology in their classrooms. By allowing technology to free up the learning environment, Bottom says teachers and students have more resources to get into higher-level learning. "They're not confined by what's available in their classroom or what's available in their partner-teacher's classroom," says Bottom. "All of a sudden they can be talking to another teacher's classroom that's in Africa. And they can be talking with a professional . It opens so many doors for the teachers and the students." Because of the opportunities to enhance their lessons, teachers get excited about using technology in their classrooms, she says. It's not that they don't want to use technology," Bottom explains. "It's that they don't necessarily feel confident enough in a class of 20 to 30 kids" because of what could go wrong if unforeseen technical issues arise. Students are typically comfortable with technology. "Any time you put a device in a kid's hands," says Bottom, "they're ready to go. The goal is just to direct them - to make sure it's an educational focus during the school day because they're so used to . using it for social media or using it for games" at home. Now in her fourth year with the Woodford County schools, Bottom taught second-, third-, fifth-, sixth- and eighth-grade students for her six years at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary in Lexington. She viewed coming to Woodford County as "a change of pace." Bottom had planned on applying for a regular teaching position here, but then decided to apply for the technology integration specialist job because she often used technology in her classroom at Mary Queen. "It has turned out to be an excellent fit. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love what I do during the day," says Bottom. She views being named a Teacher of the Year as an affirmation that her colleagues appreciate what she's doing to enhance student learning. In addition to working with teachers and students on a daily basis, Bottom spends many hours learning about new tools and resources to enhance learning in classrooms. "You constantly have to be hungry for more knowledge. And luckily, that's kind of my personality. I'm a constant learner," says Bottom. The granddaughter of a teacher, Bottom has wanted a career as an educator since she was a fourth-grader. This desire took root as a teenager working with kids in sports, a daycare and at a children's library. "I was always doing something with children so it seemed like a good fit," explains Bottom. "The mix of me wanting to constantly learn, and children keep you on your toes. You can't get in a routine. So it's refreshing because you can never do the same thing twice. I like to always do things differently." The Franklin County High School graduate earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education as well as master's degrees in school leadership and technology integration at Georgetown College, where she also played volleyball under legendary Coach Donna Hawkins. Being able to coach the volleyball team at Woodford County High School serves as a stress-reliever, gives her a class without actually having one, and allows her to remain involved in athletics. "Sports has always been such a big part of my life," says Bottom, "so I can't imagine not" being involved in volleyball. "I just felt obligated to give back to the sport and spread that love for volleyball," adds the self-described "athlete at heart." (This is the sixth in a series of feature stories on Woodford County Public Schools' Teachers of the Year.)

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