-- Herald Elementary
(1st - 3rd Grade) -- Teacher of the Year
Education has been a part of my life since birth. My father was
either in school or teaching school from the time I was born. My
mother taught pre-school and Kindergarten during my late high school
years and eventually became the principal at the Christian school
in Woodward. One of my earliest memories was attending a play when
my father was a drama teacher and being so proud of my dad. I remember
playing school in the professors classrooms at
the Seminary where mom was a keyboard operator and my dad was a
student, passing time until we could go home for the day. I felt
so official in front of the classroom and of course loved writing
on the chalkboard. But these events pale in comparison to the memories
of watching my parents students come back and express the
lifelong impact they each had made as a teacher or principal in
their lives, watching my parents pour themselves into the lives
of each child and that childs family; making a difference.
I have fond memories of my own school years- Mrs. Downey and her
polyester dresses, Mrs. Officer and her beautiful beehive hairdo,
Mrs. Snyder and Mrs. Walcher for their high expectations and quirky
teaching styles and many others. I look back and know that each
of them were a strand in the tapestry God was weaving of my life.
As I began my college career, it was with aspirations of becoming
a deaf educator or a speech pathologist. I enrolled in my basics,
my pre-requisite education courses and, of course, sign language.
After taking two signing classes, I quickly realized that speaking
with my hands wasnt going to be my best career path but that
I really enjoyed my education courses; this was my calling. And
so began my journey.
My accomplishments along the way may not be shouted from mountain
tops, but I would hope they are much more personal to each child,
to each family. Modeling after my parents, I consider it an accomplishment
when I have helped a child grow to love learning, to give their
best effort, to believe they can because I believed in them. It
is an accomplishment to help a student begin to love school, to
gain the trust of parents who may not have had a positive view of
school or teachers, to look beyond behaviors or past experiences
to see the struggling child and try to mend the brokenness. When
I taught in impoverished schools, it was a common event to provide
the most basics of needs; clothes, shoes that fit, belts for hand
me down pants that dont quite fit yet, or organizing a small
group of teachers to provide a Christmas tree and presents for a
under resourced single mom. Meeting physical and emotional needs
comes first; it is my first influence in each childs life.
It has been said, People dont care how much you know
unless they know how much you care. This is an essential goal.
After these needs are met, the education can begin. The children
will know you are sincere and really want to help them learn; parents
trust and truly back you; and with a few, I hope I have helped change
the social inertia of an entire family, setting future on a better
course. I now have students coming back to me, as my parents did
years ago, saying how much they loved our year together. These are
my most cherished accomplishments.
Another contribution to the education field in general is to try
to be a go to, one who will at least try whatever is
asked of me. I had this opportunity early in my career in Yale,
Oklahoma. When asked Can you teach music?
Ill try. Will you teach G/T?-- Ill
give it a shot. How about cheer sponsor? --OK.
And now, looking at my experience list, it is obvious Ill
try about anything asked of me. At one school, I worked with the
State Department to write a deregulation proposal allowing the teachers
to have one Friday of professional development per month to help
our fracturing staff reconnect through TRIBES training and allowing
the staff time to bond and work better together. Here in Collinsville,
after seeing a great need, Mrs. Cornett and I wrote a grant to develop
and set up our motor lab giving children a place to develop the
muscle and reflex structures in their bodies that gives their brains
the opportunity for best learning. (Mrs. Cornett has rebuilt the
lab after our move to Herald; complete credit to her for the revival.)
My third graders will begin using it again soon. In the past 5 years,
Ive taught four different grades in three different rooms
at two different schools. I move to where Im needed. And having
a working knowledge of several grades helps me know where the children
are coming from and where they should be going. It helps me set
my perspective for the year. In general, give me a challenge; Ill
usually take it.
Being a role model and mentor in my building is also one of my goals
and accomplishments. I am jokingly called the first born
of the building, the analyzer, and often the over-thinker. But with
that title of jest, I try to lead, to mentor, to pass along my years
of experience to my colleagues. I take every opportunity to have
college students in my room and help them as they begin their own
journeys into educations. I try to work with my team to think outside
the box of the standard curriculum, to incorporate science and social
studies, or local and national events into the state mandates and
build importance into the skill. This year we developed curriculum
around the State Fair, Christmas shopping and the Super Bowl. Beginning
late February through Spring Break, we will enrich learning through
the great Iditarod race and I will help some on my team follow me
on this adventure. This is just the beginning for me in third grade
and I am so thankful for the encouragement, the advice and help
that my team members have offered me as the new kid.
Next year, with a year under my belt, I hope to be a bigger asset
to my team, help develop more studies and branch out even more.
Again, my accomplishments and contributions are not extraordinary.
They are just me; trying to weave memorable, valued strands into
the tapestries of the lives that come my way.
-- Early Childhood Center (ECC)
-- Teacher of the Year
Coming Back to My Childhood Passion
Like most elementary-aged girls I spent many afternoons in my bedroom
playing school. My dozen plus students ranged from the
always-in-trouble Teddy (a brown, stuffed bear) to the perfectly-behaved
Janice (a little doll with a cute pixie haircut). As I set them
on the blocks (their desks) of my grandmothers
handmade quilt, this created the perfect classroom setting in my
The thought of becoming a teacher continued with me to college.
Early in my college years I took a few education courses with the
intent of becoming a teacher. However, a series of events and some
work experiences lead me into the field of marketing instead and
eventually, the corporate world.
Years later, when I became a mother, I left the workforce in order
to stay home and raise my three children. Along the way I had several
opportunities to engage in some teaching experiences in the church
setting. I especially enjoyed the preschool and early elementary-aged
children. I found those experiences to be inspiring and rewarding.
When my children entered school I became very involved in the parent-teacher
organization. My position as president was time-consuming and laborious
yet I also found the job to be fun and challenging. I began to feel
quite at home in the school setting. I enjoyed working with the
teachers and built a rapport with the staff and administration.
When my youngest entered first grade, I decided to go back to work.
My first thought was to go back into the corporate setting. However,
I found myself desiring to be at the school. While trying to determine
the next phase of my life, I opted to do some substitute teaching
in the meantime. In doing so, I really began to feel like I had
found my element. The teachers were quite encouraging, helping me
to find my strengths in this area. Two months into the process I
was hired as a paraprofessional at the Early Childhood Center, working
with special needs children, a very rewarding experience.
I had the privilege to work under the influence of two extremely
gifted teachers, Diertra Harris and Kelly Overholt. Both have been
very positive role models for me. Working under their leadership
gave me direction in what an exceptional teacher looks like. What
I saw in them became the foundation of the way I deal with students.
It became very obvious to me that I had a heart for children, a
passion for teaching them and a desire to help them succeed in their
education. At the urging of my co-workers, I began the procedure
of becoming a teacher through the Alternative Certification Process.
Eight months later I acquired my license and was offered a pre-kindergarten
teaching position shortly thereafter.
I believe one of the greatest assets I bring to the teaching world
is having first been a mom. I teach from the hearta mothers
heart. When I look at my students I remember that they are, first
and foremost, the daughter or son of another mom and/or dad. I treat
them like I would my own children. Just as my own children have
individualized and unique qualities, I realize my students do as
well. Im motivated to seek the success of every student.
Since I entered the education world through what I call the back
dooralternative certificationIve worked
very hard to bring my teaching skills up to speed with my colleagues.
Ive taken college classes on classroom management and educational
psychology. Ive adapted many Great Expectations principles
in my classroom. As a team weve attended conferences and presentations
on the latest thoughts concerning core objectives and the best way
to teach those objectives. Our preschool staff is dedicated to giving
our students the best possible experience for a childs first
introduction to the school environment.
I love working with the preschool age group and desire to provide
a positive learning experience for them. I set goals to challenge
them, encourage them to stretch their thinking, seek creative and
fun ways of instruction and help them learn in an affirming environment.
Im extremely fair, believing every child should be seen as
an individual and given treatment according to their needs.
I have encountered some very difficult situations and have persevered.
Ive been told one of the reasons Ive had such great
success is because Im loving, yet firm; disciplined, yet flexible.
I strive to be patient, consistent, and compassionate. I have high
aspirations for the success of my students.
There are days that can be extremely difficult and it would be easy
to say forget it and just walk away. Sometimes I think
about the salary that I could be making in the corporate world.
However, I do my job because I love it, not for the salary. I do
it because I want to make a difference in the lives of my students.
I do it for the troublesome Teddys and the perfect Janices
of the world. Only this time its not pretend.
-- Upper Elementary (4th
& 5th Grade) -- Teacher of the Year
Everyone in my family departs for college with a plan. I had a plan.
My grand plan was to become the most sought after Sports Medicine
Physical Therapist, to work with elite athletes, in the state of
Oklahoma. I could not wait---but it never happened. Instead, three
significant factors influenced me to chart an entirely different
course for my life. I would become a teacher of students with disabilities
emotional disabilities. Who knew that a brief encounter with an
inspirational teacher, a summer with emotionally disturbed children,
and a desire to follow Jesus above all would change my lifes
The most important influence in my life in determining my life plan
was my relationship with Jesus Christ. In the summer of 1985, my
relationship with Him led me to be a camp counselor at a Special
Needs Camp in Talequah, Oklahoma. It was there that my experiences
with a cabin of emotionally disturbed children challenged my thinking,
my plans, and my direction in life. It was there that God changed
my heart and gave me a new passion. I became convinced teaching
those weaker, those hurting, those feeling lost or without hope
was my calling in life.
An inspirational teacher opened my eyes to what it meant to carry
an emotional disability with you each day. During training, I was
required to take on the burdens, behaviors, and personality of an
emotionally disabled child for 24 hours. I was a bi-polar/oppositional
defiant, ten year old student. The experience left me feeling exhausted,
confused, and lonely for the first time in my life. Then I met my
students for the summer, because of this experience I left that
Special Needs camp determined to build up the weak ones, understand
the hurting, and give hope to children who have given up too young.
How would I impact the children with disabilities on a daily basis?
I would teach!
I believe my greatest contribution to education is equipping students
with special needs, and their teachers, with the skills necessary
to rebuild hearts, change destructive behaviors, and develop an
environment where children will thrive and succeed. I came to the
realization that I teach and live relationally in my classroom.
I pursue their heart first, because eventually the mind will follow.
I lead my students from the inside out, and believe in building
relationships first, instilling hope, a sense of belonging, and
new confidence to make room for learning in their lives. Training
teachers to teach students with disabilities from the inside out,
gives the students the environment that they crave and the opportunity
to strengthen their mind in a positive, safe environment. My greatest
contribution is that I understand my calling in life. I am a shepherd
and my flock is an amazing collection of students with special needs
in their life.d new confidence to make room for learning in their
-- Wilson Elementary (6th
Grade) -- Teacher of the Year
Expecting success and encouraging my students to achieve each day
are my motivators for teaching. When I enter the classroom, my expectations
are to provide the school experience that I want my own children
to receive. My students know I respect them, I am concerned about
them and I want each and every one of them to be successful.
My Bachelor of Science Degree is in Elementary Education. I use
the techniques I obtained from this training as I structure my reading
and language arts class with the use of firm, loving classroom management.
A large part of my teaching day includes hands-on activities that
encourage student involvement. As I determine each students
learning style, I try to provide a variety of experiences that meet
the needs of each student. Motivating students to take an active
part in the learning process creates a desire to learn. One thought
that inspires me each day is What would I want my own personal
children to learn? On days that I feel less than one hundred
percent, I only have to think of my own kids, and then I get busy
striving to provide the best instruction possible. Watching students
take ownership of their personal learning and experience success
is the heart of my teaching.
Daily preparation allows me to focus on the students in my class.
Much time is spent searching for materials needed to prepare them
for the next level. While the emphasis remains on testing and test
scores, my focus is on the student success and individualized curriculum
instruction. I spend each day reflecting and evaluating the previous
days instruction. This reflection drives my search for new
ideas and activities to teach skills and provide challenges for
I am blessed to have colleagues who have supported me throughout
my teaching career. Debbie Tomblinson stands out as a true mentor
during the three years I taught at Collinsville Middle School. Debbie
was always available to share her thoughts, ideas and materials.
She led by example as she exhibited the characteristics of a successful
and caring teacher. Her motivation helped me to develop into a more
Teaching has its challenges. Attitude regarding challenges in education
is a choice. We can focus on the negative or we can strive for solutions
to these challenges by focusing toward the positive. A quote I once
read stated Losers assemble in small groups and complain
Winners assemble a team and find ways to win. Working together
creates winners in the teaching profession. Sharing ideas, materials
and time allows motivation among colleagues to do our best in the
classroom. Evaluating each day, searching for new ways to reach
my students, as well as the encouragement from my co-workers, allows
me to enter my classroom each day ready for a challenge.
My mothers fifth grade classroom was the influence which directed
me to a career in education. She used hands-on activities, provided
a positive classroom experience, whether it was inside the classroom
or outside the building, challenged us each day, and used creative
ideas making us want to come back to see what was happening the
next day. Some of moms teaching techniques have carried over
into my classroom.
Anne Frank said, Our very lives are fashioned by choices.
First you make choices, and then choices make you. My choice
many years ago to become an educator has made me understand the
value of quality role models for students, which means having a
caring attitude, and providing a safe classroom environment. It
has allowed me to be a part of light bulb moments for
challenged learners, a smile or pat on the back for the student
that needed just a little recognition and encouragement. My choice
many years ago to become an educator has made ME. The reward from
my teaching career is seeing a former student and receiving a hug,
a conversation or a big smile!
Education doesnt come from a source in front of a classroom;
it is so much more than a single individual. Quality education comes
in the form of the united work of students, teachers, parents, administrators
and the community. The Collinsville community has made the choice
to support education and the students. It demonstrates this support
by passing school bonds, by attendance of sporting events, band
concerts, and school auctions, and by promoting the students in
the community. Yes, it is GREAT TO BE A CARDINAL!
-- High School -- Teacher of Year
As I reflect
on the factors that influenced me to become a teacher, my mind is
flooded with the faces and memories of many significant people in
my life. From several teachers and administrators who impacted me
during my school years, to family members who chose the teaching
profession. Although I never considered being a teacher while in
elementary or even secondary school, I did have teachers that I
admired and respected for their career choice.
During my junior and senior years in high school, I realized that
English was my thing. I was the strange student that
actually liked diagramming sentences, correcting grammar, and perfecting
punctuation. This love of English was instilled in me by my mother
who barely finished high school. She was adamant that her kids would
finish high school and continue their education.
After graduating from Tahlequah High School in 1984, I received
my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Master of Education
in School Administration degrees from Northeastern State University.
I am certified in English through twelfth grade. I began teaching
for Owasso Public Schools in 1990. I taught second, fourth, and
fifth grades in Owasso. I had my oldest child in 1995 and decided
to take some time off. I spent time at home when my children were
small, but by 2003 I decided it was time to return to the classroom.
I remained in Owasso from 2003 until 2012. We moved to Collinsville
and I then began teaching for Collinsville Public Schools in 2012.
I have been teaching for nineteen years and cannot imagine doing
My family has always been supportive of my career choice. Teaching
has been a blessing to my family because I have never felt torn
between the two. My husband, Rusty, and I have been married twenty-four
years. He graduated from Collinsville High School with the class
of 1984. We have three fabulous children; Craig, a sophomore at
West Point, Christian, a senior at Collinsville High School, and
Caroline, a junior at Collinsville High School.
My contributions to education would have to include my continued
pursuit of improving myself as a teacher and helping those around
me by sharing what I have as far as knowledge or materials and by
staying positive, even when things dont sound like they are
improving in education for our state. I am a consistent presence
at our school and a reliable teacher. I have sponsored National
Honor Society and am currently the high schools yearbook sponsor.
These added activities have been a joy to help with and I have been
able to get to know students that I never had in my English classes.
I believe all of this is a part of maintaining a sense of community
and professionalism in our school.
I feel accomplished when previous students come back and tell me
that what I taught them actually helped them in life beyond high
school. Impacting students on a daily basis and feeling like I make
a difference in the world are my main accomplishments in education.
I still remember talking to my mother after my first week of teaching
in August 1990. She asked how my week went and my reply was, I
cant imagine doing anything else with my life. Even
though there are and always will be challenging days, my answer
would still be the same.
Middle School (7th & 8th Grade) -- Teacher of
that her biography not be published online.)
(email questions/comments to email@example.com).
Ted Wright -- last update 3/12/2016 (TeachersOfTheYear2016.html)
Copyright 2016 -- Collinsville, Oklahoma