This story is one in a series of stories about educators who were chosen Teacher of the Year for their respective schools. Teachers are representing schools from both the Deer Creek and Edmond school districts.
A 20-year educator, Frontier Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year helped open the school seven years ago.
First grade teacher Amy McCarty taught at Ida Freeman for six years prior to coming to Frontier, and before that she taught in Texas and Louisiana for 7 years.
McCarty says teaching first grade is the best, and at the end of each school year, she and her students have an “ah-ha” moment.
“My ah-ha moment comes every year when we compare writing samples and a picture of themselves from the first week of school to the last week of school,” McCarty said. “It never ceases to amaze me the growth that happens.”
She said her students don’t recognize the papers they wrote the first week of school.
“Many of my students say, ‘Whose paper is this? It’s not mine!’ And I remind them it is and how amazing it is that they have grown so much,” she said. “The growth is inevitable but it’s just so incredible to be a part of it.”
MAJOR FOCUS READING
McCarty teaches all subjects but in first grade the major focus is reading.
“Reading is the foundation of all learning. We have whole group instruction, small group instruction, and centers,” McCarty said. “We also have one on one intervention time as well for students who need a little more.”
McCarty said one of her former first grade students bought her a book at the book fair every year that she was at Frontier.
The student would take her own money to buy herself a book and then she bought a book for her teacher.
“I never expected it but always appreciated it,” McCarty said. “It makes you realize that those connections are important. She’s in middle school now and I miss her walking through my door with the book she chose to donate and read to our class.”
McCarty said going into teaching she would have credited her third grade teacher, Mrs. Stout from Parklane Elementary School in Lawton.
“She was fantastic and loved us and we knew it,” McCarty said. “However, my current principal, Cara Jernigan, pushes me to be the best version of me. She has taught me to never stop learning and really cares about what’s best for students.”
CHILDREN FOR FUTURE
McCarty said education is important because it prepares children for the future and creates interest and excitement for the career path they want to follow.
“In my classroom students also build character, compassion and a sense of community with each other which hopefully makes them into responsible citizens as well,” she said.
Relationships with each one of my students come first, McCarty said.
“We build a class family so they feel safe and are willing to take risks in their learning,” she added. “Then the learning will happen.”
She attended Oklahoma State University but graduated with a Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
“Teaching is my passion,” McCarty said. “I never had a doubt as to what I was going to be when I grew up. Twenty years later … it is still the same.”
McCarty said teaching state standards is extremely important.
“I worked for three years for the state department to help incorporate lessons to teach our standards effectively,” she said. “My job is to ensure content is in place before moving students on to second grade.”
READY FOR ANYTHING
There are lessons other than knowledge from books that McCarty teaches her students.
“I want my students to know they are loved, and important, and will forever hold a special place in my heart,” McCarty said. “I focus on building character, compassion, and work hard to build a community where all feel welcomed, respected and appreciated.
She said she uses Conscious Discipline to teach calming strategies and problem solving.
McCarty said she has learned unconditional love from her students, and she has also learned to be ready for anything.
“Every day presents something new when working with first graders,” McCarty said.
“First graders are funny. I’d probably have a best selling book if I would write down the things my first graders say and publish them one day,” McCarty said laughing, “but I love my job too much to do anything else.”
She and her husband of 21 years, Brad McCarty, met at OSU and they have three boys.
The two eldest attend Edmond North High School. Aiden, 18, is a senior and Ryan 16, is a sophomore. Caleb is a fifth grader at Frontier Elementary.
They also have a Miniature Schnauzer named Libby.
“My husband’s job in the oil field brought us back to Oklahoma after living in Texas and Louisiana for a few years,” McCarty said.
In her spare time she enjoys watching her boys play soccer and She and her family attend Life Church.