Teacher Spotlight: Donovan Kerns at Royal Spring Middle School in Kentucky

The Summit Learning community is made up of thousands of dedicated teachers who go above and beyond every day to provide meaningful learning opportunities for their students. To honor educators who deserve to be recognized for their hard work, Summit Learning is kicking off a “Teacher Spotlight” series.

We’re thrilled to share that the first educator to step into the spotlight is Donovan Kerns, a sixth-grade Social Studies teacher at Royal Spring Middle School in Georgetown, Kentucky. Kerns’ knack for creating strong relationships with his community has fostered a culture of learning beyond the classroom that has helped his students thrive in their studies and extracurricular activities.  

Kerns’ students will tell you that his Social Studies class isn’t easy. He motivates each and every one of them to be the best they can be. He is able to ensure his students have a true mastery of what they’re learning in his class because he regularly meets with each of them one-on-one to support their well-being, while also checking in on their academic progress. Kerns uses the time to celebrate his students’ successes, discuss reasons for roadblocks, and focus on opportunities for additional learning.

“My goal as a teacher always goes beyond the curriculum,” Kerns said. “If that’s the only thing I do, then I’m not doing everything I could for them. I want to take students beyond my classroom and help them acquire skills they’re going to need in their lives.”

For Kerns, teaching doesn’t end when the bell rings to close the school day. He strongly believes teachers must also be a champion for their students in the community. After all, he said, if you want students to put in the work, you need to put in the work for them. 

“I find it really important to be there for my students’ events as much as possible,” said Kerns, whose mother, Donna Kerns, also taught at Royal Spring Middle School and inspired Donovan to follow in her footsteps as an educator. “I believe that if I’m expecting students to give 100 percent in the classroom, then I also have to give them 100 percent by being there for them. Yes, learning in my classroom is important, but so is showing up for your students and their families. Being present for my learners empowers them to be present in the classroom.” 

Kerns’ devotion to his students and community hasn’t gone unnoticed. Recently, Scott County Schools named Kerns its Middle School Teacher of the Year for the 2020-21 school year.

Royal Spring Middle School’s leadership team believes Kerns’ commitment to his community is a model all educators should follow. 

“Donovan is a dynamic teacher who makes lasting relationships with his students,” said Heather Brown, the Assistant Principal of Royal Spring Middle School. “I have watched him thrive in the classroom and as a leader since he began using Summit Learning. He is not only well-liked, but also respected by peers, students, and the community. He is always willing to assist others anytime needed while pushing his own professional development beyond what is expected.”

Thank you, Donovan, for all you do for your community, and for your commitment to always being there for your students. 

Do you know a Summit Learning teacher who is going above and beyond to support their students? If so, please nominate them to receive the Summit Learning Teacher Spotlight through this form

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.