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Winburn continues dedication to education

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    "It made a significant difference in my life that there were teachers that said, you can do this. You’re smart. You can do things with your life. You can make something of yourself and I’m going to help you do that. Who you become to those students is much more than being just a teacher." – Joyce Ann Winburn (68)

Joyce Ann Mason Winburn (68) has plenty of fond memories and notable accomplishments with 41 years in the field of education. It was a career that was set in motion thanks in part to an opportunity from Morehead State University.

Winburn, 66, was born and raised in Eminence, Ky. While she started off attending an all-black elementary school, she later witnessed first-hand sweeping social change as the former Eminence High School integrated in the late 1950s. When she was in high school, it was a connection between then-superintendent McCoy Terry to former MSU President Adron Doran that essentially changed Winburn’s life.

“Terry said, ‘I have a friend I grew up with who’s the president of Morehead State College. I’ll talk to Adron Doran and see if we can’t get you there,’ ” Winburn said. “To find out that I could go was obviously a dream come true.”

At first, Winburn was interested in majoring in music. With no formal training, she later decided to focus on English, a subject that was one of her strengths. As she went through college, she felt the tug of becoming a teacher grow stronger and realized it was something she was meant to do.

“Growing up and going to school, the role models I had were teachers,” Winburn said. “The people who were educated, they were teachers and they were people we respected and admired.”

Winburn earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with minors in Spanish and psychology in 1968 before completing her principal’s certification and MAT at the University of Louisville. Her first job after graduation led Winburn to come full circle when she taught English, Spanish, speech and drama at Eminence High School. During her 28-year tenure, she did everything from chaperone students to France and England to coaching cheerleading, girl’s track, boy’s varsity baseball and her school’s speech, drama and academic teams.

Before leaving EHS in 1997 to accept a position with the Kentucky Department of Education as director of the region 4 service center in Covington, Ky., Winburn received national recognition. She was chosen as one of 150 educators recognized by the Milken Foundation as an Outstanding Educator, which included an award of $25,000. Since 2005, Winburn has continued teaching. She moved to her current home in Shelbyville, Ky., and held adjunct instructor positions at various colleges, including Northern Kentucky University and Jefferson Community and Technical College, until 2011.

Even though she’s officially retiring this December, Winburn still will go above and beyond to help a child feel the impact of a quality education. She made a trip to a school in West Africa to assist the Lott Cary Foreign Mission Convention for two weeks in February and March, evaluating its status and helping to develop a five-year school improvement plan. She also served as the plan’s administrator, addressing professional development teams and construction needs.

Trips like this allow Winburn to utilize the tools she acquired while working both in the classroom and with the Kentucky Department of Education. More importantly, it’s just one more example of her unwavering passion for education as she continues to stay active and use it to shape the lives of future generations.

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