Jessica Dueñas ’03 Uses 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Grant Money to Fund Student Trip

Last year, Jessica Dueñas ’03 was named Kentucky Teacher of the Year, an honor that comes with a $20,000 grant and a yearlong sabbatical. Known for her unflinching commitment to her students, Dueñas has decided to use the award’s stipend towards a trip to Washington, D.C. for 28 of her students at the W.E.B. DuBois Academy, a newly founded, all-boys school in Louisville with an Afrocentric curriculum. She has also decided to forego her sabbatical, sharing with the Louisville Courier Journal that she didn’t want to leave her students at such a pivotal moment in her school’s development, and she wanted to help them have a “life-changing experience.” 
In a recent interview with Spence, she shared, “One thing I took away from Spence was that building relationships with students is key,” and that her personal philosophy of teaching involves building rapport with students as a foundation for learning.
Talking to the Louisville Courier Journal, she shared: “I just think it’s important to go to the nation’s capital…. it’s so important to get out and see the world. It opens [students] up.” Dueñas plans to take her students to major landmarks in D.C., along with the Smithsonian Museum of African American History, where she hopes they can “see themselves represented so positively” and realize “the sky is the limit.”
Click here for more details about Dueñas’ award and teaching career.