FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) — In early November, the first statue honoring a Kentucky woman was installed at the State Capitol.
It was a pioneer in the field of education and befitting an administration that has worked hard to put Kentucky schools first.
Recently, WKYT’s Amber Philpott teamed up with Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman to discuss how much this statue means to her personally and what message it sends for the future about the value of education in the Commonwealth.
If she ever needs a little inspiration and encouragement, Jacqueline Coleman, who has become Lt. governor look no further than down the hall from her office in the state capital.
“I see someone who has spent their life fighting for education and equality and making sure girls and women are treated fairly,” said Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman.
Nettie Depp was and is in many ways a pioneer, serving as the elected principal of Barren County seven years before women were even allowed to vote.
In 2022, her likeness became the first large-scale memorial honoring a Kentucky woman to be erected in the capital.
Her statue now stands in a place where only the statues of men used to stand. The bronze statue of Depp, almost two meters high, is located near the west entrance.
“It means a lot to me to have the first female statue in the Kentucky state capital while I am right next to her and that this first statue is a teacher,” said Lt. Governor Coleman.
Long before she held the title of Lieutenant Governor, Coleman roamed the halls of the Capitol as a child while her father was in office.
“My dad was in the legislature so I spent many days in the snow dashing through these halls and never seeing a statue that looked like me and the coolest part for me is that Evelynne never has to say that.” said Lt. Governor Coleman.
And the Lt. Governors was there to see Nettie Depp unveiled. She says the statue is a symbol of what she and Governor Andy Beshear fight for every day.
“Myself and Governor Beshear have so much respect for the work of our educators, we uphold it every day, we are an administration first,” said Lt. Governor Coleman.
In a recent report, the governor sifted through the state’s nearly 11,000 open teaching positions, which he says were caused by the pandemic and years of denied pay rises.
the lt Governor says she watched the attack on public education in Frankfurt for years.
“I always say to teachers and retired teachers: I have your back, we have your back. And changing all the rhetoric around the teaching profession I think is really important because for so many years there has just been an utter disrespect from our top leaders and it’s going to take time to undo that,” said Lt. Governor Coleman.
In October, Governor Beshear released his Education First Plan. Among other things, he calls for a five percent increase in salary for every school employee in Kentucky.
He again calls on lawmakers to fund universal preschools and daycare centers.
According to Lt. Governor, this is critical to student success.
“I can’t tell you what a difference it would make on a child’s career if they had access to universal preschool education for an entire generation of children,” said Lt. Governor Coleman.
To help with the Education First Plan price tag, the Lt. Governor for a record-breaking revenue surplus.
“If we invest in universal preschool education for all 4-year-olds and a 5 percent raise in salaries for every school worker statewide, we will still have the third-largest budget surplus in Kentucky history,” said Lt. Governor Coleman.
As a teacher, Lt. Governor has a good lesson plan when she sees it, and she hopes that what she and Governor Beshear came up with would be one that even Nettie Depp would approve of to try and inspire more teachers like her.
“If you want to transform your community and the Commonwealth and this world, become a teacher,” said Lt. Governor Coleman.”
The Education First Plan will be presented to the Legislature during the 2023 regular session.
The plan also includes a student loan forgiveness program for teachers and the restoration of teachers’ pensions.
We have Lt. Governor Coleman about the upcoming Kentucky governor’s race in 2023, and she says she’ll be on that ticket and ready to fight even harder for Kentucky educators.
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