Kevin Dailey brings U.S. history alive for his eighth graders at Ballyshannon Middle School in Union, Kentucky. During a unit on the origin of goods and services during colonial times, the class invited faculty and staff to join them in a hot chocolate tasting, with different versions incorporating spices, salt and other savory flavors brought to America by colonists from different cultures and growing regions. Students use clues to write journals detailing explorers’ stories and create intricate wall-sized diagrams showing the relationships among neighboring colonies, looking at historical documents to understand how the colonies came together to form our country. Dailey emphasizes writing, speaking, listening and reading skills in his classroom, recognizing their ongoing importance to his charges’ academic, personal and professional success. He collaborates with a science colleague for Project Citizen, a project-based learning program that teaches students about public policy and supports their efforts to press community and government leaders to effect change. Students leave his classroom with a strong foundation that sets them up for positive experiences in high school. The majority of his students take AP Human Geography as ninth graders, and more pupils enroll in AP European History in high school from Ballyshannon than from any other feeder middle school.
Dailey has a reputation as the district’s strongest advocate for fact-based instruction and equity in education, leading the effort to reimagine a multicultural social studies curriculum that addresses bias and includes narratives that support all students. He was one of the first Ballyshannon teachers to promote standards-based learning and has developed multiple rubrics to measure students’ mastery. Dailey is active in professional learning communities for his grade, building and district; participates in the district Aspiring Administrators Program; was elected by his peers to Ballyshannon’s site-based council; and has presented professional development on the flipped classroom at the Kentucky Council for Teachers of Social Studies conference. He hosts teacher interns and is a leader on the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team, creating a student-run “spirit store” that rewards positive student behaviors.
A lifelong learner, Dailey has sought out many opportunities to enrich his instruction. He taught in China through the University of Kentucky’s Confucius Institute and has attended the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Teacher Training Institute and University of Louisville’s McConnell Center for Teaching Scholars. Dailey is certified to teach “We The People,” a program that promotes civic competence and responsibility for middle schoolers. A certified fitness trainer, he began his career as an aerospace and architectural designer, skills he put to use when starting Ballyshannon’s woodworking club and overseeing the construction of a small community library in front of the school.
Dailey earned a bachelor’s in 2011 and a master’s in 2012, both in social studies secondary education, from the University of Kentucky.
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