Collinsville, Oklahoma
April 3, 2019
Teachers Of The Year
Christina Vogel Is District Teacher Of The Year
Also Teachers By Campus

It is with great honor and privilege that I get to announce our school district's Teacher of the Year and our individual site's Teacher of the Year.

Our district Teacher of the Year is Christiana Vogel! Mrs. Vogel teaches Spanish for us at the High School and has been a very valuable and effective educator for the past several years. Congratulations to Mrs. Vogel!

The site Teachers of the Year are as follows:
ECC - Megan Soto
Herald - Kyndall Chronister
CUE - Nicole Wallstein
Wilson - Amy Gregory
MS - Pat Johnston
HS - Christiana Vogel

Congratulations to all of these teachers...they are outstanding and very deserving! Thank you so much for all that you do.

- Lance West -- 3/6/2019

Greetings everyone,
I would like to thank you all for everything that you do for our students in the Collinsville School District! I feel very privileged to be a part of such a wonderful community. I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as the teacher of the year for the entire district and thank you all for your support! Warmly, -- Christiana Vogel -- 3/7/2019


Christina Vogel

Christiana Vogel -- District & High School Teacher of the Year

“The ABC’s are attitude, behavior and communication skills.” -Gerald Chertavian

Born 1966 to a kindergarten teacher and radio moderator in Berlin, Germany, I grew up during a time when communication had failed its people. My hometown was divided in half by a huge wall and the Cold War at its height. To make matters worse, the political climate made any effort to communicate freely and uncensored next to impossible. After graduating from high school, I completed a social year in Denver, Colorado, lived with a host family and taught water aerobics and exploratory German classes at the local YMCA. I had learned English, French, bits and pieces of Italian by the time I graduated from high school, exercised polo ponies for the British stationed in Berlin, traveled all over Europe and yet, communication wasn’t always easy.

As a foreigner who had been raised in a different culture, I lacked vocabulary, idioms, had a funny accent, and more often than not was misunderstood. Even after 30 years of life in an English speaking society, and having lived on three continents, Siri still does not understand me. I realized then that effectively communicating meant survival and that I had found my passion. Communication creates the world we live in, yet communication is always flawed; we can never be sure that the message we send is the message that received. Anais Nin said:” We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Face to face communication has almost gone out of style as technology has left its mark on how we communicate with one another. How can we possibly communicate when we do not even look at one another anymore?

I am Christiana Vogel and I live to communicate and have been doing so professionally for the past 28 years. Currently, I teach Spanish at Collinsville High School and Academic Strategy classes at Tulsa Community College. I pursued my BA in Spanish/ German followed by an MA in Spanish/Latin American Literature of the 19th/20th Century. While in graduate school, I began teaching Spanish as well as German at the University level. I added a secondary teaching certificate and taught German and Spanish at a Middle School in Utah before my husband’s job took us to Venezuela. In Venezuela, I taught English out of my home and once we were stateside again, continued to teach Spanish at numerous colleges and universities, added ESL, Professional Development and Academic Strategies to the list.

Jan Koum said: “Communication is at the very core of our society. That’s what makes us human.” Yet, the lack of interpersonal communication skills among our teenagers is alarming. I not only teach my students to communicate in a foreign language (which is challenging and scary enough), learn about a different culture, (which in turn helps them understand and appreciate their own culture) but I teach them to communicate with one another, with understanding and empathy, with tolerance and curiosity! As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe puts it: “He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.” My students may not remember much of the Spanish they learned in high school, but they will have learned about themselves and others, they will have experienced how difficult and frightening true communication can be, and with that experience they will be able to communicate better and be the creators of the world they live in rather than mere subjects. Ludwig Wittgenstein said it all: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

In order to communicate effectively, we must realize or better yet embrace the fact that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. I feel privileged that my audience of my communication efforts is such an impressionable one, and in turn, I am rewarded immensely and forever grateful. I have the best job of all. I am a teacher, an educator, a communicator at heart and would not want to do anything else.

Megan Soto

Megan Soto -- Ealy Childhood Center Teacher of the Year

As a junior at Mid-America Christian University, and a newlywed, I went searching for a job that provided insurance. My sister worked at a low-income school in Tulsa and prompted me to apply to be an assistant at the same school. I jumped at the opportunity to work fewer hours while
attending school, and to have medical insurance. I was determined to work in Women’s Ministry at a church, and this job was just a means to get me there. From day one, those kids captured my heart.

The way they loved so unconditionally, the way they were intrigued and curious about learning, and the way their energy and passion for life spilled over, changed me; it truly improved me. These kids needed someone to love them, someone to care whether they had eaten breakfast that day or
walked to school in freezing temperatures, and someone that believed they were smart, brave, and important. I wanted nothing more than to be that “someone” for them. Within a month, I changed the direction of my degree and set out to be a teacher. Two years later, that dream came true for me. Teaching has empowered me to make a mark on this world in a
way that I never dreamed. In the same way, these children have taught me more than I ever thought possible. Though they are small, they are mighty. One of my favorite parts of the day is our morning greeting. They stand at the door and give me a hug with their sincerest of hearts and a smile that
helps me believe “today will be a great day.” When I draw pictures on a graph, next to the words the kids call out, they begin throwing compliments almost immediately about my “extraordinary” illustrations. (Little do they know that my artistry needs tons of work!) However, that is exactly what
teaching these little ones has been for me.

The biggest plan I had dreamed of making a reality was beginning a garden, right on the playground, and allowing the children to be a huge part of it. I grew up watching my Papa, whom I admired deeply, grow his garden and take pride in the scientific and beautiful process of growing
food for the body and soul. Mrs. Boomer and the Education Foundation helped bring that dream to fruition last year. The children planted the seeds and the plants; they constantly kept an eye out for any growing buds and watched the plants grow with the sun. They also discovered new bugs around
the garden that they adored and checked on regularly around the garden. We offered the vegetables to anyone in the community to enjoy and sent them home with the students. They were always begging to take home a new vegetable and try it for themselves. It meant so much to me to unpack science and learning, along with their interest and satisfaction in health, into the beauty that is “their garden.” I hope to expand it more and allow more children to experience the vegetables.

Teaching is making messes during exploration. Teaching is seeing new things with curious eyes. Teaching is seeing the extraordinary in the small. Teaching is my life, my heart, and my joy.


Kyndall Chronister

Kyndall Chronister --
Herald Elementary Teacher of the Year

2nd Grade Teacher

Every one of us at some point in our lives have been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I remember as a young child being asked this question and answering, a soccer player, of course. No matter how huge that dream was, my little league coach, who later happened to be one of my high school English teachers, Mrs. Eason, made me feel like I could accomplish that dream as long as I worked hard. Mrs. Eason made all of her students feel important and special. She did this by taking time to get to know them and help them discover their talents and passions. Mrs. Eason, will always stick out to me as one of my
most influential teachers. She is also a big reason that I became a teacher myself.

Fast forward ten years and I was faced with that same question. I remember entering my first semester of college and being asked what I wanted to major in. Having been part of a team most of my life, I knew that I wanted to work in a profession where I could work alongside
others to help impact the lives of children. As educators, that is exactly what we do. We are all a part of a team. A team working together to provide children the opportunity to grow their minds and chase their dreams, no matter how big they may seem.

I graduated from Oklahoma State University (GO POKES) in 2012 with a degree in Elementary Education and started my teaching career in a 3rd grade classroom. I now teach 2nd grade at Herald Elementary and I am halfway through my seventh year as an educator.

In those seven years, I have learned alongside with my students. I am always encouraging them to never stop wanting to learn and to have fun doing it. I would say that my desire to learn and my drive to constantly better myself as a teacher, is my greatest contribution. I love
researching new and innovative ideas to implement in my classroom and to share with my teammates. I work with so many knowledgeable teachers who help me daily, and I am so thankful for each of them. Because we are a team, I enjoy being able to help in any way that I
can to make one part of their day easier. Whether that be, helping with an extra duty, running
copies, or sharing lesson plans and activities. Relationships with my colleagues, students, and the families that enter my classroom, are so important to me.

At the beginning of each year it is my goal to truly get to know each of my students. It is essential to know how they learn best, what makes them feel safe, and what interests them.

Curriculum is very important, however, for a child to want to learn, they must first have trust in me. Trust that I will be there every morning greeting them with a hug and smile. Trust that I will provide them with extra snacks, if I know they won't have any at home. Trust that I will hold
them accountable and challenge them daily.

While I don't carry true “titles” of great accomplishments or awards on my resume and my achievements may seem small to others, they are the reason I come to work every day. To me, my greatest accomplishments are when I see a child’s face light up and they have that “aha” moment after struggling with a concept all year. Or when I can emotionally reach a child who has had trouble trusting adults their whole life. My job is much more than teaching curriculum and having my students pass tests. In my classroom I am growing deep thinkers, problem solvers, lifelong learners, and future leaders of our country!

I strongly believe God puts a desire to educate in certain people’s hearts. He strategically placed people in my life, that helped guide me to the most rewarding profession there is, and that is teaching. I think about my classroom and my students when I wake up in the morning. They
are on my mind when I am driving home from school and sometimes they are the reason I lose sleep at night. I hope my students past, present, and future can say they learned many things while in my class, but more importantly, they felt safe and loved.


Nicole Wallstein

Nicole Wallstein -- Upper Elementary Teacher of the Year

While attending high school, I knew that I wanted a career helping people but did not know what that would be. The idea of becoming a counselor crossed my mind; therefore, I began taking classes towards this area of interest. I attended and graduated from Southern Nazarene University in 2001 with a degree in sociology and psychology. I followed my passion of helping people, which lead me to working for AmeriCorp for a program called “A Chance to Change”. This was a counseling facility for people overcoming addictions. I assisted with an after school program and went into the schools where I taught a substance abuse program to inner city kids. Activities conducted with the students of the program included: camping, introducing students to cultural groups, and aiding the students in learning about potential job opportunities within the community (with and without a college degree).

In 2005 I married my best friend, Derek Wallstein, and we began our family. Our family moved to Collinsville after the birth of our son, Jacob. After Jacob was born, I realized that I wanted to work with youth in some aspect. I have always been drawn towards helping people, especially youth; I was informed of a position opening that would allow me to do both. I began working as a paraprofessional for the Broken Arrow Public School System in 2006. I fell in love with teaching special needs students and decided to begin my career as a special education teacher.

After I passed the exams and earned my teaching credentials, I was offered a teaching position for Broken Arrow Intermediate School (9th & 10th grade) as a Special Education Teacher. At this time, I worked with students with emotional impairments for one year. During this time our little family grew and I became pregnant with my daughter, Nora.

After finishing the year at Broken Arrow I applied for a Special Educational teaching position within Collinsville Public School District. In 2008 I was offered a position teaching at Collinsville Middle School where I worked for a year and a half, then I was asked to move to Herald Elementary to work in a mild/moderate classroom. For the past nine years, I have worked with the elementary special education program, grades first through fifth at the CUE and Herald Elementary (back and forth as needed). Additionally, I have been a coach for Collinsville Public Schools Special Olympic Team for the past eleven years. Special Olympics allows students to have the opportunity to shine, participate, and compete in sports on an equal playing field. It is a great honor to help our students expand and meet goals they never knew were possible.

It has been my privilege to work the last 12 years with such a diverse population of students. I have learned the importance of flexibility and teamwork. Each student that has come to my classroom has a different story to tell. I find it an exciting challenge to meet each student where they are and help them to grow. I enjoy thinking outside the box and creating a fun atmosphere where students, no matter the disability, can feel success. Working with parents, teachers, and service providers to create a team that focuses on the abilities of the student and builds a program to help each student meet his/her individual education program successfully is something I take pride in. I truly believe that my greatest contributions and accomplishments involve what happens in my classroom: I ensure my students feel successful and a part of their school, I ensure my students are included in their general education classroom activities, I ensure that my students meet their expected goals, and most of all I ensure that my students feel loved!


Amy Gregory

Amy Gregory -- Wilson 6th Grade Center Teacher of the Yea

I take Ralph Waldo Emerson's philosophy to heart that, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Having grown up in rural Labette County in Kansas, it was instilled in me by my parents, that you have respect for oneself and others by conducting yourself with grace sprinkled with a little humor. I use this thinking to help me establish a relationship with my students. I believe that every student who I have the privilege of teaching has greatness inside of themselves. I strive to make a connection with each student to let them know how much I care about not only their education, but also about what lies within them and to be a guide for them on their journey in finding their purpose.

In 1995, I graduated from Pittsburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Then, I immediately moved to Collinsville and substituted for a year before beginning my career as a school librarian. I graduated with my Masters in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 1999.

During my 23 years of teaching experience as a Library Media Specialist with Collinsville Schools I have taught Kindergarten through 8th grade at Wilson Elementary, Washington Elementary (yes, I am old enough to have taught at Washington) and Herald Elementary. I am currently at Wilson 6th Grade Center and the Middle School. Over the years, and at all of the schools, I have been fortunate to work with the most amazing groups of teachers and staff. I have learned to much from my coworkers both past and present and it is my honor to continue to do so.

What I love most about my position as a Librarian is that I get to spend more than just one year with the students. Therefore, I can build a bond with them based on mutual respect and watch them learn, grow and mature into young adults. Carlos Maria Dominguez said, “To build up a library is to create life.” Maybe somewhere along the way a student’s life has been changed at least they will leave my building knowing that I care.

I am blessed to call Collinsville home for many reasons. The first is to be able to raise my children in this close community where friends and acquaintances are more like family. Another being, the genuine staff and supportive administrators that I am honored to work with. Thirdly, I have the benefit of now calling some of my former students, colleagues, which says a lot about the Collinsville community when graduates return to work and raise their families here as well.


Pat Johnston

Pat Johnston -- Middle School Teacher of the Year

While studying as an undergraduate at Northeastern State University (NSU), a fellow student changed his degree path from business to education. I considered doing the same because thoughts of teaching, coaching, and having a positive influence on young lives attracted me. For whatever reason, I continued the business path but ultimately ended up in the education system working as Parking Manager at NSU. Early in my career at NSU, I was befriended by Dr. Jewell Linville, an education professor who continually tried to convince me that my place was in the classroom. She told me about the Alternative Certification program and urged me to pursue it, but doing that seemed to be economically unfeasible at the time.

In February of 2003, my employment at NSU was terminated unexpectedly when the university president eliminated my position. The long and winding path leading me to education continued and though a couple of stops were still to come, doors were opened that eventually allowed me to enter the classroom. The detours taken on this journey helped prepare me to be a better teacher, co-worker, and subordinate to the administration.

Ever since the first thought of teaching entered my mind, I have considered every vocation as an education opportunity. I educated people about where to park on campus and counseled many students who were away from home for the first time who needed the advice of an elder. I educated customers while working at Walmart, and educated clients about banking. I was also a financial advisor to many clients, educating them on matters of budgets, recordkeeping, and credit. My approach to every position held has been to educate those around me. Every opportunity that has arisen has been approached from the position of educator. Looking back, teaching and educating seem natural to me and without this opportunity, my life work would have never been fulfilled. Teaching new ideas, concepts, and procedures gives me great satisfaction due to my desire to have a positive impact on everyone I encounter. My goal every day is to be a leader, motivator, and protector of each student who enters my classroom.

The greatest impact and accomplishments have been getting students to understand the importance of their history. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction when former students go out of their way to tell me how my class inspired them to study history in a way they had not previously. With such limited teaching experience, my experiences are only beginning and I know without a doubt there are many more accomplishments and contributions to come.
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