Miss Kay-A Kentucky Lady You Would Love to Know
Not Miss Kay from Duck Dynasty…this is a Kentucky Miss Kay who is just as loved and famous in our area as the Miss Kay from Duck Dynasty is in Louisiana.
Why Do We Love her?
What do raccoons, state fair, cats, history, Sunday school, singing, travel, and dogs. What do all these things have in common? Miss Kay from Kentucky!
Miss Kay is an icon, not only in the Summer Shade, Kentucky, but other areas as well. Even though a retired teacher in the local school system, she’s still very involved in educating youth in a variety of ways. From her contributions to Glasgow’s Museum of the Barrens, to her constant involvement with her church as a Sunday school and VBS teacher/coordinator, Ms. Kay has her hand in numerous community activities, and definitely has had a tremendous impact upon hundreds of children through the years.
Advocate for Animals
One of her passions is her love for a variety of animals. This fondness for all four-legged critters has spanned the generational gap and endeared her to my own 12 year old daughter, Annika. Just recently, Miss Kay gifted Annika with a glass cat bowl, which immediately found its place front and center on my daughter’s dresser. Miss Kay, Annika, and another of her Sunday school students, Allie Jo, have numerous conversations filled with animal facts and Bible trivia, each sprinkled with laughter. Miss Kay has a special way of appealing to kids of all ages with her vast knowledge of ancient civilizations and faraway places, as well as her stories of her pet cats, dogs, and raccoons. (Yes, you read correctly–she has a family of raccoons which actually think they’re cats!!)
When asked about her other pastimes, Miss Kay replied, “My favorite activities and hobbies are traveling to historical and scenic locations. I like to visit places I have read about in books especially if something important happened there. I also like to study about local history. Since Metcalfe County has such little written history, researching is like adding a new piece to the puzzle every time a new bit of information is uncovered.”
Miss Kay added, “Researching my family tree and history is also fascinating. As long as I can remember, my daddy talked to me about our family’s history that he had heard from his father and grandfather Hearing my daddy’s stories made me feel like I knew those people personally, and their lives shaped mine. It’s important to understand that the events of each family’s lives make up the history of our county, state, and nation. The information may not seem important to us at first glance, but where would America be if there were not hundreds of thousands of families just like ours. We have numerous buildings, sites, and culture which need to be preserved for future generations, yet many times these important remnants are torn down or discarded to make space for something new. When that happens, it’s like discarding part of our past and our life story.”
It’s not surprising that Miss Kay has traveled all over the world considering her love for history and culture. Her favorite places she has visited are England and Scotland. She thought it might be due to the fact that so much of our own history is tied to England and the British Isles. She said the countryside is so lovely and the people are very friendly.
“There were so many places I had read about, and to actually see them in person was a delight. I also loved going to Alaska. Again, the scenery was wonderful; the way it all was so untouched made me think of what it might have been like in the lower 48 several years ago.”
Ms. Kay may have been retired for a few years, but the teacher persona still lingers in her actions and conversations. She actually started teaching in the fall of 1969 after graduating from Campbellsville College. Her first assignment was teaching third grade at Summer Shade Elementary, but she didn’t remain in that class for long. After teaching for about two weeks, Mr. Wilbur Gilley, the superintendent, asked her to transfer to remedial reading in grades 3 – 6 after a teacher had resigned. Ms. Kay continued to teach reading until 1988 when Mrs. Dimple Branstetter retired from the sixth grade, at which point she asked for that class, and she started that job the next fall. Eventually, she moved to the middle school where she taught math for two years, which eventually led to her thinking about retirement. She never thought she’d be one to leave after the required 27 years, but when the time came, she knew it was right. Her mother, Ms. Susie, another teacher icon in Metcalfe County, was in need of assistance at home, so Ms. Kay shifted her focus from young people to her personal life.
A Lasting Impact
Even though no longer in the public school classroom, Ms. Kay continues to have an impact on children of all ages through community and church activities. She still loves to see that spark of enthusiasm when youngsters are learning. As she reflects on her past she remembers motivating students to try their best, and even though she might have “pushed kids into doing things they did not want to do or did not think they could do,” she enjoyed how “once it was completed, they were proud of what they had done and were willing to try something else.” Ms. Kay still believes “students need to know that their teacher cares, even when they are being corrected for something they’ve done wrong. Part of that success comes from one on one interaction with a teacher who truly cares about the student. The more successful experiences a student has, the more of a good foundation he or she has to build on when the next learning event comes along.”
I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to know Miss Kay as one of my school teachers, club sponsors, Sunday school teachers, and friend. I’m excited that our youngest daughter is now getting to experience Ms. Kay’s influence as well. Miss Kay’s daily life is obviously impacted by her favorite motto, “If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing right,” a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand find to do, do it with thy might.” She wisely adds, “I think if we all lived like that we would save ourselves problems of having to redo work or wasting time.” I’m positive Ms. Kay hasn’t ever wasted time when it comes to helping or giving to others, making learning fun, preserving local history, and caring about all creatures great and small.
My life and many others have been blessed by knowing her; if you’re not personally acquainted with Ms. Kay, you’ve missed out on one of the most fascinating small town icons in Kentucky.
NanaHood gives that last statement a loud “Amen!” Do you have memorable characters in your community like Miss Kay? Tell us about them!
This post was written by Laura Reed as a guest post for NanaHood.com