Welcome to Our 2012 Teacher of the Year

On Tuesday, I got to do one of the most enjoyable parts of my job – name the 2012 Teacher of the Year.

Kristin Shelby, a fourth-grade teacher from Sallie Gillentine Elementary School in Hollis, is an inspiration who will be a wonderful ambassador of education in our state. Shelby was selected from about 150 statewide applicants for this award.

After she got over her shock at being selected – which comes along with about $50,000 worth of cash and prizes from generous donors – Shelby gave a knock-it-out-the-park speech. In it she vowed to be an all-hands-on-deck ambassador who recruits high-quality teachers into our school systems, embraces new technologies, incorporates parents and the community into the classrooms and tackles the Common Core State Standards head on.

“It’s a pivotal time in history for education,” Shelby said.

I wholeheartedly agree. These issues are all close to my heart as well. Welcome aboard Kristin Shelby. You’ve got your work cut out for you, but I know you will do a fabulous job representing your fellow teachers. Congratulations on this high honor.

Shelby will represent our state in the national Teacher of the Year competition in the spring. She’ll find out in February if she’s a finalist.

Shelby was chosen from a field of 12 finalists by a state panel of education, business and civic leaders. This committee read each finalist’s portfolio, conducted group and individual interviews and watched videos of the teachers describing their teaching strategies. The judges said it was nearly impossible to choose a winner from this group of highly qualified individuals.

Please permit me to recognize each finalist one more time as they are each so deserving of our respect for their hard work and dedication to students.

• Anthony Rose, a science and geography teacher at Cheyenne Middle School in Edmond;
• Amy Braun, a first-grade teacher at Northmoor Elementary School in Moore;
• Trina Evans, an eighth- through 12th-grade English, Algebra, pre-calculus, Advanced Placement calculus, and Advanced Placement statistics teacher at Liberty High School;
• Ebony Harris, a ninth- through 11th-grade Algebra and geometry teacher at Seminole High School;
• Betty Henderson, an 11th-- and 12th-grade Advanced Placement biology II, anatomy and physiology teacher at Bartlesville High School;
• Dawn Poyndexter, a first- and second-grade teacher at Cedar Ridge Elementary in Union Public Schools;
• Lori Sosenko, a fourth-grade teacher at James Griffith Intermediate School in Choctaw-Nicoma Park Public Schools;
• Jill Steeley, a second-grade teacher at Central Elementary School in Coweta Public Schools.
• Tonya Stites, a pre-kindergarten through second-grade physical education at Liberty Elementary School in Sallisaw;
• Mark Thomas, a 10thth- through 12thth-grade geometry, Algebra II, trigonometry, and Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Stillwater High School; and
• Lyndal Westmoreland, an Advanced Placement English literature; eighth-grade English; seventh- and eighth-grade reading; and speech, drama and debate teacher at Okarche High School.

I also would like to congratulate this year’s five Rising Star Teachers. Rising Stars are those who were selected as Teachers of the Year for their school districts who have been in the classroom for seven years or less. They show an amazing amount of promise in their profession. They are selected based on portfolios reviewed by the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Regional Selection Committees.

These are:
• Kelly Silber, a kindergarten through second-grade music teacher at Cache Primary School;
• Erica Carey, a ninth- through 12th-grade family and consumer sciences teacher at Crescent High School;
• Sallie L. Harrison, a fourth-grade math and language arts teacher at Meeker Elementary School;
• Jaden Hunter, an eighth-grade American history and pre-Advanced Placement American history teacher at Clyde Boyd Middle School in Sand Springs; and
• Valerie Bradshaw, a ninth- through 12th-grade life sciences and leadership teacher at Shawnee High School.

I also would like to give a final thank you to Elizabeth Smith, our wonderful 2011 Teacher of the Year. Thank you for your service to your state and your fellow teachers this year. Thank you to your family for sharing you. I know your students will be glad to have you back in the classroom. 


Last updated on December 14, 2011