Fellowship applications are now available for Oklahoma fifth- and eighth-grade teachers interested in attending the 2020 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute next summer in the restored capital city of 18th-century Virginia. The fifth-grade institute is scheduled June 6-12, and the eighth-grade institute is scheduled June 13-19, 2020.  
           
The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence coordinates the selection of Oklahoma teachers to participate in the renowned teacher institute. Applications are available on the foundation’s website at www.ofe.org. Completed applications must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2020.

The fellowships cover all program activities, airfare, lodging and most meals. Each teacher also receives a $300 stipend for classroom materials. While in Colonial Williamsburg – the world’s largest living history museum – Oklahoma teachers will have the opportunity to meet character interpreters of 18th-century people and be immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historic events. Participants also will meet daily with a Master Teacher to discuss interactive teaching techniques and develop creative lesson ideas based on their experiences.

“No textbook can replace the inspiration and knowledge gained by walking in the footsteps of early Americans, both famous and ordinary,” said Teacher Institute alumna Linda Goodnight of Wewoka. “Visualizing George Washington and his troops at Surrender Field, debating in the very courtroom where Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry pled the cause of liberty, and learning to make rope by hand in Jamestown colony will ignite my teaching – and my students – forever.

“The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute is by far the finest, most comprehensive teacher training I have ever attended,” Goodnight added.  “I am a better American and a better teacher because of it.”

Oklahoma’s fifth-grade teacher institute is open to fifth-grade social studies/history teachers and resource teachers, such as school librarians or gifted-talented teachers, who plan to teach U.S. history in their schools in 2019-2020. Their sessions will focus on the daily life of colonial Virginians and the transition from subject to citizen that occurred during the Revolutionary War period. Teachers will be immersed in content and hands-on activities that highlight the stories of the people who lived and worked in 18th-century Williamsburg.

Oklahoma eighth-grade classroom teachers who will teach U.S. history as part of their social studies curriculum can apply for fellowships to attend the Teacher Institute’s program for secondary teachers. Their sessions will examine how the concept of American identity began in the colonial period and continues to evolve and transform with each generation. Through inquiry-based analysis of primary sources, teachers will explore how that identity influenced American citizens to shape and change the Republic through the 1860s.
The fellowships are available to public and private school teachers. Participants are asked to share materials, skills and experiences with fellow teachers through two workshops or in-service programs upon their return from the institute.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has coordinated Oklahoma’s participation in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute since 1993. The program is made possible through the leadership and support of the late Oklahoma City businessman Edward C. Joullian III, who was an active supporter and former board member of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Joullian was also a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Joullian’s family, along with a group of loyal donors, continues to support the fellowship program, which has served more than 880 Oklahoma teachers.

For more information, visit the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence website at www.ofe.org or call Brenda Wheelock at (405) 236-0006, Ext. 11.
 
 
 

OKLAHOMA CITY – A successful reading program for at-risk students, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and a novice teacher training program have been selected as recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Program Awards for Oklahoma School Foundations presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its Oklahoma School Foundations Network.

The awards, announced today at the Oklahoma School Foundation Network’s regional meeting in Lawton, recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma.

Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be the At-Risk Readers Program sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, the 50 for Fifty Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser sponsored by the Noble Public Schools Foundation and the Novice Teacher Support Program sponsored by the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.

“We are honoring these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities,” said Katy Leffel, director of the Oklahoma School Foundations Network. “In addition, we will recognize these program award winners among their peers at regional meetings so that other school foundations might emulate or adapt these ideas in their own school districts.”


At-Risk Readers Program
Bartlesville Education Promise

Statistics have shown that students who do not learn to read by the third grade are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. Recognizing that as many as 14 percent of Bartlesville third-graders did not pass the new, more difficult state reading test, Bartlesville Education Promise implemented an At-Risk Readers Program.

The reading program selects at-risk readers in all six elementary schools and provides after school tutoring, donates books for all elementary students to take home, and offers a summer reading program staffed by professional teachers. During the eight-week summer program, teachers worked with over 1,000 students and encouraged students to take a pledge to read at least one book over the summer. The foundation invested more than $38,000 last year in the reading program.

“As a result of significant after-school tutoring, encouragement of parents, providing reading books for home use, and an aggressive summer reading program, only four students were held back in third grade,” said Martin Garber Jr., chairman of Bartlesville Education Promise.

The Bartlesville Education Promise foundation was founded in 2015 to help Bartlesville Public Schools students graduate from high school and prepare for college and the workforce. More than 3,300 students participated last year in one or more of the foundation’s programs. Last year, the district graduation rate increased from 83 to 91 percent.

 

50 for Fifty Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
Noble Public Schools Foundatio
 

Noble Public Schools Foundation set a goal to raise $50,000 for their endowment fund and to also engage new donors with the foundation in an effort to raise awareness and commitment to supporting their mission.

They launched the 50 for Fifty campaign, calling on community members and alumni to engage their peers to help raise $1,000 on behalf of each of the 50 graduating classes from Noble. The foundation called on alumni to pay forward the advantages gained from their experiences in Noble Public Schools by raising funds to support current students.

The campaign utilized a peer-to-peer fundraising approach. Each graduating class had a team, with additional teams for non-alumni community members and staff. Team leaders shared the 50 for Fifty fundraising opportunity with their network of friends and classmates, asking them to share in turn with their own networks. Team leaders utilized many different methods of donor solicitation, from social media and text messages to phone calls and emails.

“This program engaged our supporter community by putting the ownership on their peer groups to reach a common goal of supporting our schools, together, as a team,” said Erika Wright, foundation president. “It fostered a healthy competition between classes, with each team having their own unique giving link and a leaderboard tracker to show who had raised the most at any given time during the campaign.”

The $50,000 fundraising campaign not only exceeded its goal, but also brought in 84 new donors and 24 new monthly donors.

Novice Teacher Support Program
Foundation for Tulsa Schools

To increase teacher retention, increase teacher content knowledge and strengthen student outcomes, the Foundation for Tulsa Schools began sponsoring the Novice Teacher Support Program in 2017-18. The program provides novice teachers enhanced on-boarding training, additional professional development and one-to-one mentorship from an experienced teacher mentor.

“A significant challenge facing Tulsa Public Schools is the hiring, training and retaining of quality teachers,” said Tulsa Superintendent Deborah A. Gist. “One of the most important factors in a student’s academic success is the quality of his or her teacher.”

Gist said 40 percent of Tulsa Public Schools’ teachers are novice teachers, defined as being in the first two years of their teaching career, with the district losing nearly 25 percent of teachers before they reach their sixth year of teaching. The district, with the support of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools, has faced the challenge head-on by increasing efforts to support novice teachers

Through the program, all novice teachers receive stipends to participate in additional monthly professional development days. The summer Novice Teacher induction was expanded from three to five days, allowing additional time for new teachers to go through new hire onboarding and receive more focused professional development and expanded breakout sessions. The Novice Teacher Support Program also increased the number of experienced teacher mentors to allow more one-on-one support for new educators.

“The primary measure of success for the Novice Teacher Support Program is an improved retention rate for novice teachers returning to the district,” Gist said, noting that the retention rate increased 7 percent in 2018-19 and 11.5 percent in 2019-20. This year, Tulsa Public Schools is financially supporting the program internally and continues to refine the program based on teacher feedback.

The Outstanding Program Awards are presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Among its many programs, the Foundation for Excellence provides free training, resources and networking opportunities to new and established public school foundations across the state through its Oklahoma School Foundations Network – formerly the Local Education Foundation Outreach program.

For more information, contact Katy Leffel at (405) 236-0006 or email kleffel@ofe.org.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools, is seeking nominations for its 2020 Academic All-State Scholarships and Medal for Excellence Awards.

Scholarships and educator awards totaling $125,000 will be presented at the foundation’s 34th annual Academic Awards Banquet on May 16, 2020, at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in Norman. The event, which has been described as the “Academy Awards for public education in Oklahoma,” is attended by nearly 1,000 guests and is broadcast statewide on public television.

 “We know that education is the best investment our society can make for the future,” said David L. Boren, founder and chairman of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “If we make all of the right policy decisions in every other area but fail to adequately educate the next generation, we will imperil the future of our society. By working together to give outstanding students and educators the recognition they deserve, we send a strong message to our state and to the nation that Oklahomans value academic excellence.”

Academic Awards nominations are being accepted through an online portal at www.ofe.org in the following categories:

1.      Academic All-State, which honors 100 public high school seniors with a $1,000 merit-based scholarship. To qualify, students must meet at least one of the following requirements: a composite ACT score of at least 30; a combined SAT evidence-based reading & writing and math score of at least 1370; or be selected as a semi-finalist for a National Merit, National Achievement or National Hispanic Scholarship. Eligibility must be verified by the district superintendent or high school principal. Academic All-State nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

2.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Elementary/Secondary Teaching, which honors two educators – a public school elementary teacher and a secondary teacher.

3.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Elementary/Secondary Administration, which honors an exceptional public school administrator at the elementary or secondary level.

4.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University or Community College, which honors an innovative teacher at a public regional university or community college.

5.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Research University, honoring an outstanding educator at a public research university.

Oklahoma Medal for Excellence honorees each receive a $5,000 cash award and a glass Roots and Wings sculpture. Anyone may nominate an educator for a Medal for Excellence Award. Nominees must be full-time employees of their public school or institution and have demonstrated excellence as an educator. All Medal for Excellence nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Scholarship and award recipients are chosen by an independent selection committee, chaired by retired Tulsa attorney Teresa B. Adwan, and comprised of business, education and civic leaders, as well as former Academic All-Staters and Medal for Excellence winners. Since 1987, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has awarded more than $4.8 million in academic awards and scholarships.

For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.ofe.org or call (405) 236-0006.

Oklahoma pre-K-12th grade teachers seeking customized professional development opportunities are encouraged to attend upcoming information sessions in Oklahoma City, Lawton and Clinton about Fund for Teachers grants. 

In partnership with the national nonprofit Fund for Teachers, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and the Tulsa Community Foundation will offer grant proposal writing and information sessions. The meetings are scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at The Oklahoman, 100 W. Main St., Suite 100, in Oklahoma City; at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at Great Plains Technology Center, 4500 W. Lee Blvd. in Lawton; and 5 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Clinton Schools Administration Building, 1720 Opal Ave. in Clinton.

Webinar information sessions will be available in November and December on the national Fund for Teachers website. Registration and webinar information can be found at www.fundforteachers.org/fft-events

Teachers attending the sessions will learn about eligibility requirements, the application process, tips and advice for developing a fellowship proposal and grant writing assistance. The Fund for Teachers grant program awards fellowships of up to $5,000 for individual teachers and up to $10,000 for teams of teachers for self-designed professional development experiences to take place anywhere in the world during the summer months. The grant cycle application process opens Oct. 1 online at www.fundforteachers.org and will close Jan. 30, 2020. 

Fund for Teachers supports teachers in their desire to improve their craft and gain understanding by offering professional development unique to the needs of their students and teaching philosophy. Since 2006, the Fund for Teachers program in Oklahoma has provided more than $3.1 million in grant funds to 878 Oklahoma teachers. Oklahoma’s 2019 Fund for Teachers program was funded in part with support from a tribal alliance including the Chickasaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Native America teachers from all Oklahoma tribal areas are also encouraged to apply for the 2020 grant cycle. 

Fund for Teachers fellowships are open to Oklahoma pre-K through 12th-grade teachers in public, private, parochial and charter schools. Applicants must have at least three years of teaching experience, be full-time employees and spend 50 percent or more of their time in a classroom setting. In addition, applicants must have the intention of returning to their school and/or district following their summer professional development. School administrators are not eligible for the grants. 

This summer, 28 teachers from Oklahoma schools returned from learning odysseys in locations in Europe, Japan, South America and North America. Fellows ignited new passions for learning as they adventured through diverse ecosystems, toured historical locations, observed industry professionals, experimented with new technology, and more. 

Chelsea Archie and teammate Shanna Eicher, science teachers from Owasso Seventh Grade Center, ventured to Eastern Australia to investigate the effects of climate change on the country’s ocean and land ecosystems to develop an inquiry-based unit that engages students in local and global conservation efforts. While in Australia, the team met with conservationists and research scientists to discuss the current state of local ecosystems and to strategize about conservation. Their learning adventure included guided tours of rain forests and animal sanctuaries, behind-the scenes research at the Cairns Aquarium, underwater research at the Great Barrier Reef, observing conservation efforts at the Australia Zoo and visiting local research colleges. 

“I would describe this fellowship as a game-changing event in my education career,” Archie said. “As educators, it is our duty to learn as much as we can so we can be the best teachers for our students. I can now infuse more real-world problem-solving and critical thinking into my classroom, talk with colleagues about complex world issues, and encourage others to stretch outside of their comfort zones.” 

For more information about Fund for Teachers, or to apply for a grant, please visit www.fundforteachers.org, contact Sara Wilson at swilson@ofe.org or call 405-236-0006, ext. 12. 

Exactly 699 Oklahoma coaches from 204 communities in 73 counties participated in the fifth annual Oklahoma Coaches Mentoring Challenge, a campaign to encourage Oklahomans to mentor young people in their communities.

The 2018-19 campaign was kicked off with endorsements from OSU Head Football Coach Mike Gundy and OU Head Football Coach Lincoln Riley in collaboration with state mentoring organizations and the Boren Mentoring Initiative, a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. During the campaign, coaches from public and private elementary and secondary schools, as well as many colleges and universities in Oklahoma stepped up to endorse mentoring. Prospective mentors can learn about volunteer opportunities on the campaign website at www.okcoacheschallenge.org.

“We are grateful to the many coaches who have lent their voices in a unified call for youth mentors in Oklahoma,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative. “As natural and group mentors, coaches know firsthand the impact that a mentor can have on the academic, social, emotional and economic futures of our young people. Mentoring is critical to the future of our state, providing workforce and quality-of-life development.

“Coaches consistently tell me they see students who are not involved in sports or organized school activities who would benefit from a mentor,” Woodrome added. “By endorsing the Coaches Mentoring Challenge, they are sending a message that they value mentoring and see a critical need for more volunteers to spend an hour a week mentoring young people in their communities.”

The Coaches Mentoring Challenge began in 2008 as a friendly competition between mentoring advocates Coach Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska and Coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State University. Since then, many coaches from universities, colleges and secondary schools around the country have signed up to endorse mentoring.

According to MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, it is estimated that one in three young people is in need of a mentor – someone to listen, to encourage and to set a positive example. One of the greatest challenges facing mentoring programs in Oklahoma is the shortage of volunteers. Mentors are needed to serve young people from Pre-K through young adults in college and Career Tech. “The Coaches Mentoring Challenge has helped raise awareness about the need for more mentors across the state and has even generated some interest in starting new mentoring programs,” Woodrome said.

The Boren Mentoring Initiative is a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in public schools. The mentoring initiative, named for foundation founder and chairman David L. Boren and his wife, Molly, grew out of their shared support for mentoring and its proven impact on student success in and out of the classroom.

The initiative was launched in 2006 to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide, providing free consulting and resources. The Mentoring Initiative also celebrates the impact of mentoring by honoring outstanding volunteers at the annual Oklahoma Mentor Day. As a resource for those seeking a mentor or mentoring opportunities, the initiative hosts a directory of 328 Oklahoma mentoring organizations on its website at www.okmentors.org.

 “We are happy to meet with schools, churches, businesses and others interested in starting a mentoring program in their community,” Woodrome said. “Research has shown that the most positive outcomes of mentoring are improved academic performance, positive mentor-mentee relationships, improved behavior, increased self-esteem and greater enrichment opportunities for participating youth.”

For more information, visit www.okcoacheschallenge.org or contact Woodrome at (405) 590-4063.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is seeking nominations for its 2019 Outstanding Program Awards for Oklahoma School Foundations. 
The foundation annually recognizes innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations. Trophies and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be presented to honorees in late October.

Recognized programs may include but are not limited to: curriculum enhancement, arts integration, student leadership development, student scholarships, mentoring, professional development for teachers, public relations and fundraising. Nominations for recognition may come from anyone in the community knowledgeable about the foundation, including its board members. Only one program per foundation may be nominated for recognition.

Nomination forms and instructions, as well as descriptions of past award recipients, are available online at www.ofe.org. Nominations must be completed online by midnight September 15, 2019.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Among its many programs, the foundation provides training, resources and networking opportunities to new and established school foundations across the state.
           
For more information, contact Katy Leffel, director of Oklahoma School Foundations Network, at (405) 922-5420 or email kleffel@ofe.org.

OKLAHOMA CITY –Thirty-six Oklahoma educators can hardly wait to return to the classroom after experiencing a week of historical immersion into early American life at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, held at the restored capital of 18th – century Virginia.

While in Colonial Williamsburg – the world’s largest living history museum – Oklahoma teachers met character interpreters of 18th-century people – from Powhatan Indians and plantation slaves to British loyalists and Founding Fathers. Educators were immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historical events. This marks the 27th year that Oklahoma teachers have attended the institute through a fellowship program coordinated by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in public schools.

Oklahoma is second in the nation, following California, in the number of teacher institute participants, with 1,044 graduates.

“My week in Williamsburg has been fantastic,” said Brooke Lee, a fifth-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School in Noble. “From meeting historical character interpreters and learning trades to exploring buildings, I have been immersed in the colonial history of our nation. My favorite part of the week was examining original documents in the special archive collection and exploring original structures.”

Lee said she feels better prepared to help her students understand the lives of everyday people who lived in the colonies and to help students “connect their lives today with historical moments that shaped our nation.”

This summer’s Oklahoma participants included 27 fifth-grade teachers and nine eighth-grade educators. Fifth-grade teacher participants, listed by school district, are Myriah McVay, BEAVER; Pam Norris, BEGGS; Jannean Thompson, BERRYHILL; Lecia Hopkins, BRIDGE CREEK; Gabrielle Figueroa, BROKEN ARROW; Alicia Mitchell, CHEROKEE; Jamie Spradlin, CLINTON; Tina Green, ENID; Jennifer Shearer, FRIEND; Beau Keener, JENKS; Cheryl Smith, LUKFATA; Kelli Chambers, MUSKOGEE; Monique Ratliff, MUSTANG; Brooke Lee and Skyler Smith, NOBLE; Bryan Karinshak, Janet Villani and Tiffany Wylie, NORMAN; McKenzie McCall, JOHN REX CHARTER SCHOOL, OKLAHOMA CITY; Haley Nelson, OWASSO; Susan Barnes, PAWHUSKA; Shawnacie Tresler, PURCELL; Monica Hiller, PUTNAM CITY; Wendy Sheets, TULSA; Stephanie Harris, WEATHERFORD; and Jourdan Bustos and Taryn Ellis, YUKON. Teresa Potter, a teacher at OAKDALE Elementary School in EDMOND, was selected by the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute to serve as peer facilitator for the fifth-grade Oklahoma delegation. She met daily with teachers to discuss interactive teaching techniques and help develop creative lesson plans based on their experiences.

Eighth-grade teacher participants, listed by school district, are June Sindelar, ADA; Brandy Baldwin, ARDMORE; Justin Ennis, BROKEN ARROW; Sean Dooley, CHOCTAW-NICOMA PARK; Justin Shaw, DICKSON; Brent Mahan, LAWTON; Dennis Paul Butler, OKLAHOMA SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND, MUSKOGEE; Sarah Drake, RUSH SPRINGS; and Rhonda Cegielski, VERDIGRIS.

Sarah Drake, who teaches U.S. history at Rush Springs Middle School and High School, said the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute was the best professional development experience she has attended in her 26-year teaching career. “Our group debated voting for independence in the very chamber when the Virginia Burgesses voted to join the independence movement,” she said. “We were privileged to meet several interpreters of historical figures, including Martha Washington; French Revolutionary war hero Marquis de Lafayette; Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion; and Jenny Joseph, a slave woman.

Drake said she looks forward to sharing personal stories and applying lessons she has learned in both middle school and high school classes. The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute provides participants with interactive teaching techniques and skills to become mentor teachers who can assist other educators to develop active learning classrooms and make history exciting for their students. Participants share strategies to improve instruction, raise literacy levels and enhance thinking skills.

Oklahoma’s teacher institute 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 2006. Graduates of the institute now receive lapel pins and certificates designating them as 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.

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

ADA – June Sindelar teaches eighth grade at Ada Junior High School.
 
ARDMORE – Brandy Baldwin is an eighth-grade teacher at Ardmore Middle School.
Justin Shaw, a resident of Ardmore, teaches eighth-grade history and science at Dickson Middle School.
BEAVER – Myriah McVay teaches fifth grade at Beaver Elementary School.
 
BEGGS – Pam Norris, an Okmulgee resident, teaches fifth grade at Beggs Public School.
 
BLANCHARD – Lecia Hopkins, a Newcastle resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies and math at Bridge Creek Intermediate School.
 
BROKEN ARROW – Justin Ennis teaches sixth through eighth-grade social studies at Centennial Middle School.
Gabrielle Figueroa, a Tulsa resident, is a fifth-grade teacher at Aspen Creek Elementary School.
 
BROKEN BOW – Cheryl Smith teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Lukfata Elementary School.
 
CATOOSA – Dennis Paul Butler, a resident of Catoosa, teaches eighth-grade history at the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee.
 
CHEROKEE – Alicia Mitchell teaches fifth-grade social studies at Cherokee Elementary School.
 
CHICKASHA – Sarah Drake, a resident of Chickasha, teaches social studies at Rush Springs Middle School and High School.
Jennifer Shearer of Chickasha teaches fifth grade at Friend Elementary School.
 
CHOCTAW – Sean Dooley, a resident of Midwest City, teaches eighth-grade U.S. history at Nicoma Park Middle School.
 
CLAREMORE – Rhonda Cegielski, a Claremore resident, teaches eighth-grade history and civics at Verdigris Jr. High School.
 
CLINTON – Jamie Spradlin, a Weatherford resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies and English at Washington Elementary School in Clinton.
 
COLLINSVILLE – Haley Nelson, a resident of Collinsville, teaches fifth-grade social studies at Barnes Elementary School in Owasso.
 
EDMOND – Teresa Potter teaches fifth grade and gifted & talented classes at Oakdale Elementary School. A 2000 Teacher Institute alumna, she was has served 12 times as peer facilitator for the fifth-grade Oklahoma teacher delegation at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.
 
ENID – Tina Green is a fifth-grade teacher at Coolidge Elementary School.
 
LAWTON – Brent Mahan teaches eighth-grade U.S. history at Central Middle School.
 
MIDWEST CITY – Sean Dooley, a resident of Midwest City teaches eighth-grade United States history at Nicoma Park Middle School in Choctaw.
 
MUSKOGEE – Dennis Paul Butler, a resident of Catoosa, teaches 6th through 10th grade at the Oklahoma School for the Blind.
Kelli Chambers teaches fourth through sixth-grade at New Tech at Cherokee Elementary School.
 
MUSTANG – Monique Ratliff, a Yukon resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Horizon Intermediate School.
 
NEWCASTLE – Lecia Hopkins, a Newcastle resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies and math at Bridge Creek Intermediate School in Blanchard.
 
NOBLE – Brooke Lee, a Noble resident, and Skyler Smith, a Norman resident, teach fifth grade at Pioneer Intermediate School in Noble.
NORMAN – Bryan Karinshak teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Jefferson Elementary School.
Skyler Smith, a Norman resident, teaches fifth grade at Pioneer Intermediate School in Noble.
Fifth-grade teachers Janet Villani and Tiffany Wylie of Norman teach at Truman Elementary School.
 
OKLAHOMA CITY – Jourdan Bustos, an Oklahoma City resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies at Lakeview Elementary School in Yukon.
Monica Hiller teaches fifth-grade social studies and math at Rollingwood Elementary School in Putnam City Schools.
McKenzie McCall teaches fifth grade at John Rex Charter School.
 
OKMULGEE – Pam Norris, a resident of Okmulgee, teaches fifth grade at Beggs Public School.
 
OWASSO – Haley Nelson, a resident of Collinsville, teaches fifth-grade social studies at Barnes Elementary School.
 
PAWHUSKA – Susan Barnes is a fifth-grade teacher at Pawhuska Elementary School.
 
PURCELL – Shawnacie Tresler teaches fifth grade at Purcell Intermediate School.
 
RUSH SPRINGS – Sarah Drake, a resident of Chickasha, teaches eighth-grade at Rush Springs Middle School.
 
SAND SPRINGS – Jannean Thompson, a resident of Sand Springs, teaches fifth grade at Berryhill North Elementary School in Tulsa.
 
TULSA – Gabrielle Figueroa, a Tulsa resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies at Aspen Creek Elementary School in Broken Arrow.
Beau Keener teaches fifth and sixth-grade special education at Jenks East Intermediate School.
Wendy Sheets teaches fifth-grade English, French and social studies at Eisenhower International Elementary School.
Jannean Thompson, a Sand Springs resident, teaches fifth grade at Berryhill North Elementary School.
 
WEATHERFORD – Stephanie Harris teaches fifth-grade history and language arts at West Elementary School.
Jamie Spradlin, a Weatherford resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies at Washington Elementary School in Clinton.
YUKON – Jourdan Bustos of Oklahoma City and Taryn Ellis of Yukon teach fifth-grade at Lakeview Elementary School.
Monique Ratliff, a Yukon resident, teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Horizon Intermediate School in Mustang.
Oklahoma fifth-grade teachers meet a historical interpreter portraying James Madison during their visit to the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.
Nine Oklahoma eighth-grade teachers were selected by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence to attend the 2019 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute session for middle school educators. Pictured front row, from left, are June Sildelar of Ada, Rhonda Cegielski of Verdrigris, Brandy Baldwin of Ardmore, Brent Mahan of Lawton and Justin Ennis of Broken Arrow. On the back row, from left, are Dennis Paul Butler of Oklahoma School for the Blind, Sean Dooley of Midwest City and Justin Shaw of Dickson Schools.

Twenty-seven Oklahoma educators will embark on career-changing professional development experiences this summer, thanks in part to a new Tribal Alliance comprised of the Chickasaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The Tribal Alliance is helping support 2019 Oklahoma Fund for Teachers grants, which provide self-designed summer learning experiences for Oklahoma teachers in the United States and throughout the world.  Members of the Tribal Alliance were recognized at a recent reception hosted by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the national Fund for Teachers and the Tulsa Community Foundation, which partner to administer Oklahoma Fund for Teachers grants.

“The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence recognizes the tremendous positive influence Native American tribes are to our state’s educational endeavors,” said Foundation President Cathryn Render, explaining that the foundation reached out to tribes with the goal of encouraging teachers with Native American tribal membership to apply for Fund for Teachers fellowships. “We are very proud of these five founding members for stepping up to recognize the value of the amazing Fund for Teachers program. And of course, we are delighted that over 23 percent of the fellows selected this year were indeed tribal members.”

Since 2002, more than 1,000 Oklahoma teachers have received Fund for Teachers grants totaling over $3.6 million. In 2006, Oklahoma became the first state in the nation to offer grants to educators statewide when the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence joined the national Fund for Teachers and the Tulsa Community Foundation as state partners. Fund for Teachers fellowships empower teachers to explore their academic passions, deepen their scholarship and enhance their craft, said Karen Webb, executive director of the national Fund for Teachers.

“Through experiential learning, bold experimentation and the realization of personal ambition, teachers are better equipped to impart tools and skills which serve their students far beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” Webb said. “Fund for Teachers knows that good teachers become great teachers when they have the resources to explore their subject matter in the real world and translate it to their students and communities.”

In addition to thanking Tribal Alliance members, the Fund for Teachers Reception honored former Fund for Teachers fellow Donna Gradel, the current reigning Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and a top-four National Teacher of the Year finalist.  The Oklahoma Fund for Teachers partners announced the establishment of an annual Donna Gradel Fund for Teachers Fellowship to provide professional development opportunities for Oklahoma teachers who, like Gradel, are “helping their students become problem solvers and world changers.” 

Gradel, who teaches environmental science at Broken Arrow High School, shared how two Fund for Teachers fellowships to Kenya helped lay the groundwork for student projects to provide clean water and high protein foods for children suffering from protein deficiency. She described how she engaged students in problem-solving design projects and took student groups to Kenya to build a largescale aquaponics system and, later, a fish-food system. Last summer, she returned to Kenya with a third student group to build a chicken coop and chicken-food harvesting facility.  Her students are now preparing for a large-scale production of low-cost sustainable fish and chicken food with the goal of helping thousands of children suffering from protein deficiency.

“My students who worked on these projects and those who were able to travel to Kenya will never be the same,” Gradel said. “Their trajectory in life has changed. They have the mindset that they can make a difference in the world. They have the confidence and grit it takes to work on solving relevant real-world problems.”

Gradel thanked the Tribal Alliance for the investment they are making in Oklahoma teachers. “You are going to get an amazing return on that investment in the form of greater engagement in the classroom and greater learning potential for our students.”

For information on the 2019 Oklahoma Fund for Teachers fellows, visit www.fundforteachers.org.

PHOTO ABOVE: Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence President Cathy Render (left) and Executive Director Emily Stratton (right) present a certificate to Danny Wells of the Chickasaw Nation recognizing his tribe's generous support of the 2019 Oklahoma Fund for Teachers Program. The foundation recently held a reception at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in appreciation of the Oklahoma Tribal Alliance.