EngageOK Teachers: September 2016


State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister meets teachers at the grand re-opening of Feed the Children’s Teacher Store on Aug. 2 in Oklahoma City.

End of EOIs gives instruction time back to teachers

Dear Teachers,

Welcome back! As the school year ended last spring, lawmakers passed a momentous test reduction bill that reduces tests in elementary and middle school and makes end-of-instruction exams a thing of the past. The new law requires only federally mandated tests in grades 3-8 and high school, plus U.S. history. This means the number of standardized tests has been slashed by 31 percent, equating to 66 fewer days of testing. This is great news!

This gives us an opportunity to rethink the purpose of testing and refocus on learning for the long run. Teaching to the test has become an archaic notion. With new changes on how we use test results, we now can get back to teaching to standards. Thanks to thousands of you, we have stronger new academic standards written for and by Oklahomans.

Despite the weight of significant challenges this year, let’s find a way to connect with each student and champion excellence for them. I will continue to fight passionately for what kids need – and they need you.

With great respect,


Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction



New Guide to Assessments

How will the Every Student Succeeds Act and H.B. 3218 affect testing requirements for your students? The OSDE has created an Assessment Program Overview guide to clarify changes and outline the testing calendar. It also contains test blueprints for science, ELA, math and history. To download the guide, click here.

Here is a one-page at-a-glance comparison of how state-mandated testing has changed from last school year to now. To see the comparison chart, click here.


Get the Summary of New State Education Laws


The Oklahoma State Department of Education is excited to provide the second annual Red Banner Book as a resource to help you stay informed of state education legislation.


New laws that emerge from legislative session each year can be overwhelming. The impact on districts, schools and classrooms across Oklahoma may be significant or minimal, immediate or delayed, positive or troubling — but there is one constant: You need to know the law.

This book is not intended to be all-inclusive or to serve as legal advice, but it will give you a general overview of this year’s new laws and legislative actions affecting public education.

Download the Red Banner: 2016 Legislation book here



Implementation Toolkits Available for Math, ELA


No doubt you have already started diving into the new Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. This summer, the OSDE has been collaborating with teachers across the state to develop tools to make it easier to create pacing guides and build meaningful lessons based on the standards.

In fact, there are so many resources to tap into that we’ve created a handy, printable list with links so you can explore and share with your fellow teachers. Features include preliminary curriculum frameworks, video shorts, PD on Your Plan virtual modules, sample curriculum maps and podcasts.

For the ELA toolkit, click here. For the math toolkit, click here

In addition, we urge you to join our Math Task Force, launched just last week. It is a nine-week collaborative journey of learning to help to build a resource of rich, high-cognitive-demand tasks aligned to the standards. For more information, click here.

For the math blueprints and calculator policy, click here. For the ELA blueprints, click here.



Tell Us What You Think

Join thousands who are helping us shape the future of public education in Oklahoma! We’re conducting an online survey on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law that replaces No Child Left Behind. ESSA allows us to collaborate with education’s many stakeholders – including parents, educators and community members – to come up with a state education plan that’s best for our kids.

Some of the questions you’ll see in the survey:

  • How should we measure student progress?
  • What supports should OSDE provide to low-performing schools?
  • What can we do to support a learning environment to better prepare diverse learners for college and careers?

Let your voice be heard! Click here to take the survey

If you would like to receive periodic updates on OSDE’s efforts regarding ESSA, sign up to receive our ESSA newsletter.



Congratulations, Jon!


Jon Hazell, a science teacher at Durant High School, was named Oklahoma’s 2017 Teacher of the Year at a ceremony Aug. 30 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

A graduate of Durant High School, Hazell has taught anatomy, biology and environmental science for 33 years in the Durant Independent School District. In addition to teaching, he is the lead pastor at United Church of Tishomingo.

“My purpose as a teacher is not so much to motivate my students as it is to create an environment where they motivate themselves,” Hazell wrote in his state Teacher of the Year application.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who made the announcement at the Centennial Building at the fairgrounds, said Hazell’s commitment to education is evident in the contributions he has made to his community.

“Jon has a true servant’s heart, giving back to his neighbors and teaching his students to do the same,” Hofmeister said. “From sponsoring food, clothing and toy drives to raising money for a student stricken with leukemia, Jon is a gifted, inspiring speaker who will be a tremendous ambassador for the profession. In Durant, he is near the border of Texas, where a teacher could earn more, but his commitment is to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma.

“Teachers not only teach, they encourage, mentor, listen, engage and inspire. No amount of thanks can express our gratitude for what they accomplish each and every time they enter our classrooms,” Hofmeister said.

Hazell will remain in his classroom for the rest of the school year. Starting July 1, 2017, he will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession. Oklahoma’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan will continue to tour the state until July in addition to teaching. Hazell will accompany Sheehan to select speaking engagements.

In his acceptance speech, Jon says “Stay and fight. It’s worth it. Our kids are worth it, and our state is worth it.” To watch his speech, visit our Facebook page.

Congratulations to all our state Teacher of the Year finalists!

  • Rebecka Binion, Linwood Elementary School, Oklahoma City
  • Mike Doudican, Glenpool High School, Glenpool
  • Kristen Dover, Cache Intermediate Elementary School, Cache
  • Robin Haworth, Tecumseh High School, Tecumseh
  • Brittany Hix, Jenks West Intermediate School, Jenks
  • Charmin Holland, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Duncan
  • Tiffany Massie, Canyon Ridge Intermediate School, Mustang
  • Adam Mewhorter, Southmoore High School, Moore
  • Kay Morris, Verdigris Lower Elementary School, Verdigris
  • Lisa Pitts, Jones Elementary School, Jones
  • Mona Schmitz, Highland Park Elementary, Woodward

And congratulations to all our Rising Stars teachers!

  • Jamie Aguilar, Garfield Elementary School, Enid
  • Michelle Clonch, Washington Elementary School, Ada
  • Melaine Crowder, Grove Upper Elementary School, Grove
  • Laura Latta, Rosa Parks Elementary School, Union
  • Kasey McKinzie, Wanette Public Schools
  • Jordan Wisniewski, Bethany Middle School, Bethany


Science, Math Teachers Win National Award


Congratulations to the Oklahoma recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching! This award is the highest recognition a math or science teacher in the United States can receive. Winners receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and are invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony Sept. 8. Honored this year are (pictured from left to right, top to bottom):

  • Rebekah Hammack, Stillwater Middle School, Stillwater
  • Teri Kimble, Hydro-Eakly Middle School/High School, Hydro
  • Jamie Rentzel, Norman High School, Norman
  • Moriah Widener, Jenks West Intermediate School, Jenks

Meanwhile, we are extremely proud of the four state-level elementary finalists for the PAEMST, who will now compete for the national prize:

  • Lucianna Copelin, North Rock Creek School, Shawnee
  • Jennifer Duvall, Broken Arrow Public Schools
  • Macey Morgan, Washington Elementary, Norman
  • Michelle Rahn, Will Rogers Junior High, Claremore



Constitution Day Is Sept. 16

To commemorate the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution, schools nationwide are observing Constitution Day/Citizenship Day on Friday, Sept. 16. This year is also the 225th anniversary of the passage of the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. For games and lesson plans from the National Archives, click here. Other free teaching resources are available from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Senate.

BILL OF RIGHTS RAP: Oklahoma fifth-graders are invited to perform the Bill of Rights Rap at their school at 10 a.m. (or as their schedule allows) on Friday, Sept. 16, to celebrate Constitution Day. The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and Oklahoma Bar Association are partnering to promote the second annual project. Please register so they can track participation across the state. Click here to register. Click here for lyrics. Click here for the video, performed by students from Teresa Potter’s SEARCH class at Fisher Elementary School in Moore. Also, check out these other songs for fun ways to teach U.S. history: Declaration of Independence/One Republic parodyand 19th Amendment/Lady Gaga parody.

OH, SAY CAN YOU SING-A-LONG? At noon on Friday, Sept. 9, join the fourth annual national simultaneous sing-a-long of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The lyrics were composed by Francis Scott Key on Sept. 14, 1814, after he witnessed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. To download free curriculum about the national anthem and to register to help beat last year’s world sing-a-long record, click here.



JUNIOR SENATORS: The U.S. Senate Youth Program is a scholarship program in which two Oklahoma high school students are selected to win a one-week, all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 college scholarship from the Hearst Foundation. Principals can nominate juniors or seniors for the program. Applications are due Friday, Sept. 16. For more information, click here.

FIRST AMENDMENT ESSAY: Oklahoma high school students can win up to $300 through the Zach Taylor First Amendment Essay Contest, sponsored by Freedom of Information Oklahoma. Write about how one of the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment (speech, press, religion, assembly or government petition) is important to our way of life. Submission deadline is October 5. For more information, click here.



STUDENT PROTEST & POLITICS: The First Amendment Congress for high school students and educators will be October 26 in Constitution Hall at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. This year’s theme is “Student Protest and Politics.” Sessions will focus on the First Amendment rights of high school students and incivility in our political discourse. Limited financial assistance is available to help schools with transportation. Register your class by October 21! For more information, click here.


Professional Development Opportunities


REFRESH SUMMIT: The Oklahoma Public School Resource Center is hosting Refresh Summit professional development events in Oklahoma City, McAlester and Woodward. These summits will include a variety of session topics chosen by those who register, school supplies for teachers, online courses and other learning opportunities. To find out more and to register, click here.

ENCYCLOMEDIA: The Oklahoma Technology Association/Encyclomedia Conference will be held October 4 and 5 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. Highlights of the conference will include 120 breakout sessions, 150 exhibit booths, sessions on new curriculum, instruction and testing changes, a maker space and Google Classroom in the exhibit hall and much more. For more information, click here.


News From Across the State


DEAR FRESHMEN: Last year’s upperclassmen – who graduated from or attend high schools in Weatherford, Broken Arrow, Alva, Spiro, Claremore, Muskogee, Duncan and Piedmont – advise new Oklahoma freshmen how to find balance between schoolwork and activities, make new friends, set goals and manage their stress. To watch the video, click here.

EDUCATE OKLAHOMA: KWTV Channel 9 in Oklahoma City and KOTV Channel 6 in Tulsa are examining the state of education in Oklahoma in a shared statewide initiative called: “Educate Oklahoma.” News segments focus on education issues in Oklahoma such as parent involvement and education mandates. One broadcast even sent reporters to Finland to examine its world-renowned education system.

To see KWTV coverage, click here. To see KOTV coverage, click here.


#MOOREPROMISE: The staff, students and stakeholders of Moore Public Schools made new year resolutions for 2016-2017. To watch their video,click here.

OPEN RESOURCES: A sixth-grader uses her cell to learn about cells – the microscopic kind. Broken Arrow Public Schools just completed a pilot program to replace its traditional textbooks with streamlined electronic books its teachers created with openly licensed instruction materials, called Open Educational Resources. To read more, click here.



BULLDOG SHUFFLE: The teachers at Edmond Memorial High School danced their way into their students’ hearts with their own welcome-back video. To watch their video, click here.


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Last updated on April 22, 2019