The Edmond Sun


July 16, 2012

What winning teaching sounds like

OKLA. CITY — One of the best parts of my job is meeting teachers. Their passion and creativity inspires me everyday as I work for the children of our state.

This week I was fortunate enough to announce the 2013 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalists. Those of us in the ceremony had the opportunity to hear from each finalist about their practice of the profession and what their goals are for their students.

Cindy Bailey, a high school math teacher in Altus, said her goal is to give her best to her students so that in return she can pull out the highest effort in each of them.

Carol Brinsfield, an elementary reading teacher from Checotah, shares a mission I’m equally passionate about — teaching children to read to learn. As she urges children to accomplish as much as they can, she makes sure to have some fun.

Andrea Brock, a math teacher from Moore West Junior High, said her passion is to negate any math anxiety in her students while giving them the knowledge they need to move on to take higher math classes.

Marilynn Kellert, principal of Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School in Oklahoma City, spoke on behalf of science teacher Daniel Buckmaster. She said he doesn’t teach science; he inspires his students to become scientists in his classroom.

Kyle Cooper, a prekindergarten teacher from Coweta, encouraged educators to realize the power they have over shaping the lives of their students and to use their talents to better the lives of each child.

Tiffani Cooper, a high school English teacher from Owasso, said she sees the best results when her students see that she cares about them outside of the classroom. She loves it when they realize they’ve exceeded their expectations of learning.

Elaine Hutchison, a middle and high school math teacher from Fairview, stressed that it’s not the school building or fancy equipment that makes the difference in the life of a child but the inspirational teachers and adults that shape learning.

Lisa Lamont, a kindergarten teacher from Muskogee, said she walks into her classroom everyday with the goal of inspiring her children — even at this young age — to move toward being ready for college and careers and to being contributing members of their communities.

Kim Landers, a Spanish teacher from Deer Creek High School, said she works to make sure her students are ready to compete in the global society. She constantly asks herself if her students will get the job.

Lane Matheson, a science teacher from Tulsa’s Memorial High School and Engineering Academy, chose teaching as a second career after working for NASA on the International Space Station. She said she’s thrilled to help students get excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses and careers.

Brenda Roberts, a third-grade teacher from Byng Public Schools, said she loves that teachers are empowering children to be lifelong learners and readers.

Lee Ann Stone, a kindergarten teacher in Woodward, calls school her “happy place.” She said she’s begged and borrowed ideas and strategies from others to help her achieve her best.

After hearing from these inspirational teachers, I know it will be tough for the state committee to choose this year’s ultimate winner. But with such passion on display, haven’t we all already won?

JANET BARRESI is Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction.

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Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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