OKTOY Blog: Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence


 

 …teachers are not a special brand of workers or employees but it is the most respected and revered section of the population.
      –Arul Lawrence in “Teacher Commitment in Promoting Education”

Jason Proctor, Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Foundation for Excellence Awards CeremonyWhat a year it has been. This past weekend I had the honor of being awarded the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Secondary Teaching by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. It was a great night for Tahlequah Public schools as we also honored three Academic All-Staters along with their guest teacher for the evening. David Boren and the Foundation for Excellence have gone out of their way to assure that our profession is recognized in a deserving manner. I’d like to share my acceptance remarks with you, as well as a few other words that I was unable to fit within my 90-second time limit:

Thank you, Foundation for Excellence, for this prestigious award.

I have made it my life’s work to become a master craftsman. My media of choice: people.

As Oklahoma’s 2015 Teacher of the Year I stand before you tonight representing teachers across our state as well as the nation. Together we willingly assume the role of building people.

Much of the focus today in education is on things that are quantifiable. It is nearly impossible to accurately quantify great teaching, though it is easily recognizable when you witness a great teacher in action. We may be in a teacher shortage across our state, but we are in no shortage of great teachers. All of those great teachers know that what we really do cannot be measured.

Parker Palmer writes in The Courage to Teach, “Reduce teaching to intellect, and it becomes a cold abstraction; reduce it to emotions, and it becomes narcissistic; reduce it to the spiritual, and it loses its anchor to the world. Intellect, emotion, and spirit depend on one another for wholeness. They are interwoven in the human self and in education at its best.”

I chose teaching not because of the math but because of the draw to connect with young adults. Likewise, very few become teachers because of a burning passion for their content. They don’t teach because they love the quadratic formula, correct comma usage or the Boston Tea Party. Most teachers, when asked why, will give a much more reflective answer that centers on being a source of impact. What we do is teach. Who we are is where the lasting difference is made. Great teachers never forget that it’s about people and relationships. Their objective is to create a better person. 

Over the past few months I’ve learned not only how vast our profession really is, but also how much of an impact we as teachers have. I am humbled by story after story of the amazing people who have answered the call to educate and touch the future one child at a time. The experience has left me inspired and extremely proud to belong to such a noble profession. Likewise, my past is full of similar examples of men and women who left their mark on me. I am grateful for the many lessons that have been imparted on me by my family, mentors and friends. Thank you.

 

Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

 

 

Last updated on May 19, 2015