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OFE News Release

Oklahoma Educators Immersed in History at Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute

July 24, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Twenty-five Oklahoma teachers walked in the footsteps of America’s patriots and British colonists during the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute held recently in the restored capital city of 18th-century Virginia.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence selected the teachers to receive all-expense paid trips to the summer institute in Williamsburg, Va., as well as $300 stipends for classroom materials. In addition, participants received a one-year subscription to the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip series, which combines Internet activities and live television broadcasts to help bring the Colonial Williamsburg experience to the classroom.

Participants, listed by school district, are: Elizabeth A. Cannon, Linda Cantrell and Linda Forrester, ADA; Sherry A. McGhghy, DUNCAN; Patricia Long, ENID; Christa Rice and Emily J. Yang, JENKS; Janet L. Cook, LAVERNE; Kathleen Hargis, LAWTON; Alona Anderson and Katie Buckley, McLOUD; Sherilynn Admire, Martha Hixon, Christine M. Paradise and Rhonda Watkins, MIDWEST CITY-DEL CITY; Tina Llopis, NORMAN; Kitty Hart, OKLAHOMA CITY; Sherry L. Blankenship and Diann McKasson, PUTNAM CITY; Sharon Northcott; SEMINOLE; Pam Matthews and Susan Henderson; TULSA; and Melody Aufill, YALE. In addition, Carol A. Anderson and Janet H. Bass of Oklahoma Christian School in EDMOND participated.

Teresa Potter of MOORE Public Schools was selected by the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute to serve as peer facilitator for the Oklahoma delegation. Potter, who is a Teacher Institute alumna and coordinator of Oklahoma’s Colonial Day at the Capitol, met daily with the group to discuss teaching techniques and develop creative lesson plans based on their experiences in Williamsburg.

While at Colonial Williamsburg – the world’s largest living history museum – Oklahoma teachers met character interpreters of 18th-century people and were immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historic events. The week’s lessons were built around the theme “Becoming Americans.” Participants also visited Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English colony in America, and spent a day at Yorktown visiting the battlefields where the Continental Army forced the British to surrender.

Diann McKasson, a fifth-grade teacher at Ralph Downs Elementary School in Oklahoma City, said standing on the surrender field at Yorktown was one of the most emotionally powerful highlights of the journey. “When I saw Surrender Field, I was overcome with the feelings of how much conviction, hardship and pure love of freedom that it takes to overpower tyranny and how precious freedom is,” McKasson said. “The entire Colonial Williamsburg experience has heightened my already proud feelings to be an American.”

McKasson said her students will benefit from having a teacher who feels that she has “lived through” the colonial and Revolutionary War times. She plans to use many of the Teacher Institute lesson plans and activities in her classroom.

Shari Admire, a special education teacher at Soldier Creek Elementary School, said she became like a sponge at the Teacher Institute, soaking up the wealth of knowledge and living history experiences to bring back to her students. “I came away from the Williamsburg Teacher Institute carrying a wealth of information, 25 pounds of books, teaching materials ranging from quill pens to games of letters, numbers and cooperation. I also came away with three DVDs from my video camera and over 400 pictures, all of which will be used with my classroom curriculum.”

Admire will incorporate her experiences into a multiyear colonial history teaching project called “Thankful Journeys” that allows students to become historical travelers, settlers, decision makers and dreamers. She also plans to develop her own historical character interpretation of Abigail Adams, the wife of President John Adams.

This marks the 15th year that the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has coordinated Oklahoma’s participation in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute. The Oklahoma program was founded and supported through the fundraising efforts of the late Oklahoma City businessman Edward C. Joullian III. A trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and former board member of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Joullian died in September 2006. Graduates of this year’s institute received lapel pins and certificates designating them as the first class of Edward C. Joullian Oklahoma Scholars. Joullian’s family, along with a group of loyal donors, continues to support the program, which has transformed the way many Oklahoma educators teach early American history.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. In addition to its Colonial Williamsburg programs, the foundation sponsors a statewide Academic Awards Program, provides training and resources for new and established public school foundations, administers grants to teachers for professional development and coordinates a statewide school-based mentoring initiative.

For more information, contact the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence at (405) 236-0006.

(EDITORS: Oklahoma’s Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute participants are listed below by hometown and the cities in which they teach. If you would like to interview a local participant, contact Brenda Wheelock at 405/236-0006 for information.)

ADA – Ada residents Elizabeth A. Cannon, Linda Cantrell and Linda Forrester are fifth-grade teachers at Willard Elementary Center.

BETHANY – Sherri Lynn Blankenship and Diann McKasson teach fifth grade at Ralph Downs Elementary School in Oklahoma City. The school is in the Putnam City Public Schools district.

CACHE – Kathleen Hargis is coordinator of the Gifted Education Program at Douglass Learning Center in Lawton. A 25-year teaching veteran, she is a CACHE resident.

CHOCTAW – Sherilynn Admire of Choctaw teaches special education at Soldier Creek Elementary School in Midwest City-Del City Schools.

DUNCAN – Sherry Ann McGhghy is a fifth-grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

EDMOND – Carol A. Anderson is a fourth-grade teacher and Janet H. Bass is an elementary library media-specialist at Oklahoma Christian School.

ENID – Patricia Long is a fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School.

JENKS – Christa Rice and Emily J. Yang are fifth-grade teachers at Jenks East Intermediate School. Rice is a Tulsa resident, while Yang lives in Jenks.

LAVERNE – Janet L. Cook is a fifth-grade teacher at Laverne Public School. She has been in the teaching profession for 23 years.

LAWTON – Kathleen Hargis is coordinator of the Gifted Education Program at Douglass Learning Center. A 25-year teaching veteran, she is a CACHE resident.

McLOUD – Alona Anderson and Katie Buckley are fifth-grade teachers at McLoud Intermediate School. They are residents of Shawnee.

MOORE – Teresa Potter is an enrichment teacher at Fisher Elementary School in Moore. A Teacher Institute alumna, she was selected as peer facilitator for the Oklahoma teacher delegation at this year’s Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

SHAWNEE – Shawnee residents Alona Anderson and Katie Buckley are fifth-grade teachers at McLoud Intermediate School.

MIDWEST CITY – Sherilynn Admire of Choctaw teaches special education Soldier Creek Elementary School in Midwest City.
Martha Hixon of Stroud is a library-media specialist at Del City Elementary School.
Christine M. Paradise of NORMAN teaches fifth grade at Steed Elementary School in Midwest City.
Rhonda Watkins teaches fifth grade at Schwartz Elementary School in the Mid-Del school district.

NORMAN – Christine M. Paradise of NORMAN teaches fifth grade at Steed Elementary School in Midwest City.
Tina Llopis teaches fifth grade at Monroe Elementary School.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sherri Lynn Blankenship and Diann McKasson teach fifth grade at Ralph Downs Elementary School in Oklahoma City. The school is in the Putnam City Public Schools district.
Kitty Hart teaches fifth grade at West Nichols Hills Elementary School.

SEMINOLE – Sharon A. Northcott teaches fifth grade at Northwood Elementary School.

STROUD – Martha Hixon of Stroud is a library-media specialist at Del City Elementary School.

TULSA – Pam Matthews teaches fifth grade at Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Tulsa.
Susan Henderson is a fifth-grade teacher at Jane Addams Elementary School in Tulsa.
Tulsa resident Christa Rice is a fifth-grade teacher at Jenks East Intermediate School.

YALE – Melody Aufill is a fifth-grade teacher at Yale Elementary School