Ponca City Teacher of the Year finalists

March 5, 2014 12:00 am

Ponca City Public Schools Announces and Honors 2015 Teachers of the Year

Ponca City Public Schools is proud to announce and honor the 2015 site Teacher of the Year nominees. The District Teacher of the Year will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year Banquet hosted by the district on March 13, at the Senior High School.

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David Pennington said he community is invited.

“We have invited community support again this year to jointly honor our outstanding teachers who have been selected by their peers to receive this honor," Pennington said. " We are proud of our educators and believe they deserve this kind of recognition. We would like to thank the many local businesses who donated gifts that will be presented to the teachers at the banquet.”

This year’s theme is based on the book Trumpet of the Swan, and it focuses on how teachers help students find their voice and achieve their goals and dreams. The guest list includes over 200 people again this year.

The Three Finalists Are . . .

Diane Anderson, John Munger, and Rana Wells are the three finalists for the district. Each elementary site has one nominee with the secondary schools having more than one to allow a more proportional representation from each site. After the nominees were announced, the Teacher of the Year Committee had the difficult task of selecting three finalists for the District Teacher of the Year. Each site Teacher of the Year nominee is listed below along with information about each of them.

Finalist Diane Anderson – Science Teacher at East Middle School

“In going beyond the curriculum and getting to know her students, Mrs. Anderson gives students a voice and builds relationships that affect them for a lifetime,” stated East Principal Barbara Davis. “She helps her students see that obstacles can be overcome, and with a belief in themselves, they can achieve their dreams and goals.”

Finalist John Munger – Biology Teacher at Ponca City Senior High School

Po-Hi Principal Kent Marshall said, “John Munger helps his students find their voice and achieve their goals and dreams by building relationships. John, as a Po-Hi graduate, understands the importance of listening to, and then offering advice that helps direct his students toward their goals and dreams. He is always willing to help any student searching for a better future. He spends a large chunk of time, in class and out, encouraging his students to become better self-advocates for their dreams and goals through education. John is an outstanding educator.”

Finalist – Rana Wells – Second Grade Teacher at Woodlands Elementary

Woodlands Principal Becky Krueger said, “Mrs. Wells’s busy classroom epitomizes an environment where children can ‘find their voice.’ The differentiated lessons and strategies used by Mrs. Wells are specifically targeted for the individual needs of each of her students. Students are up and moving, interacting with technology, cooperating with their peers, building vocabulary through academic games, or benefitting from that all important one-on-one attention to learning from Mrs. Wells herself. Her students know how much she values and respects them with the ‘caring voice and actions’ she displays as well as frequent hugs. The staff at Woodlands Elementary appreciates Mrs. Wells’s leadership and willingness to help anyone at any time. She is a valued and respected member of our family. Like Louis, in Trumpet of the Swan, Mrs. Wells uses every tool available to build a better future for her students. After all – everyone was once a little cygnet who needed the guidance and direction of an exceptional teacher like Mrs. Wells.”

Laura Chaney-Reed – Social Studies Teacher at Wildcat Academy

Wildcat Academy Director Karla Streeter said, “Mrs. Reed exemplifies a teacher who helps students achieve their goals and dreams. Working with alternative education students has given her the opportunity to help students attain their goal of receiving a high school diploma. Mrs. Reed acts as a mentor to her students and gives them the freedom to express their future goals and dreams. She works diligently to ensure that her students have whatever they need in order to make their dreams a reality.”

Deb Jones – First Grade at Garfield Elementary

“Deb Jones is an extremely dedicated teacher,” said Garfield Principal Lori Cox. “She is very devoted to her students and helping each of them find their voice and achieve to their fullest potential. Deb is also a leader among her fellow teachers and works with them in how to implement the new TLE practices to improve classroom instruction. Mrs. Jones is someone I can always rely on to stand in the gap when there is a need at Garfield. I feel very blessed to have her on staff and look forward to working with her for many years to come.”

Jennifer Martinez – Fifth Grade at Liberty Elementary

Liberty Principal Jill Henderson said, “Ms. Martinez empowers students in finding their voice and achieving their dreams by respecting all students and deepening relationships as a genuine person. She shows confidence in their abilities and works hard to help them set goals that will lead to attaining their dreams. "

Molly Smith – Fourth Grade at Lincoln Elementary

“Molly Smith helps students find their voice by planning lessons that provide opportunities for students to express their own personalities and passions,” said Lincoln Principal Maurisa Pruett. “She empowers students to creatively problem solve. Her team of grade level teachers collaborate in a manner that encourages the entire grade level of students to work together to learn.”

Jennifer Green – Art Teacher at Roosevelt Elementary

“Mrs. Green’s creative artsy spirit helps students find a voice they don’t even know they have,” said Roosevelt Principal Ronda Merrifield. “Her vast knowledge and unique perspective fascinate them and open their eyes to a variety of possibilities out in the big world. She sparks dreams for students whose view of the world is limited and fans the flames of all their dreams so they recognize the reality of achieving them. Mrs. Green’s gritty, common sense approach to following dreams is what makes her our “Roughrider” teacher of the year.”

Katie Butler – Kindergarten Teacher at Trout Elementary

“Sam instilled Louis with confidence to find his own voice,” stated Trout Principal Carla Fry. “Mrs. Hammerbotham provided the knowledge. Katie Butler provides the best of both worlds to her kindergarten students. She teaches children how to develop their academic and social skills. Ms. Butler is a master at combining learning with movement. You might find her students doing the Kung Fu alphabet or whizzing through Macarena math.”

Sarah Lybarger – Speech Pathologist at Union Elementary

“Sarah Lybarger truly works to help children find their best voice,” said Union Principal Trina Resler. “As a speech pathologist, she spends her days helping students reach language goals that are so very important for a successful and fulfilling life. She is not only an incredible speech teacher, she is an amazing person.”

Robert Cash – Sixth Grade Science at West Middle School
“Robert Cash has many skills to help students in his sixth grade science classes find their voice and achieve their goals and dreams,” said West Principal Curtis Layton. “This is accomplished in part through his genuine personality, passion for teaching, and drive to go above and beyond to communicate respect and appreciation for his students as individuals. Robert’s genuine personality is the essence of his teaching style. Mr. Cash is well known for engaging students in friendly banter, sharing interesting life stories, and spreading his passion for life and the outdoors. This interaction with Mr. Cash goes far in helping students learn to communicate and find their voice. School has always been an important part of Robert Cash’s life. As a high school student, he was active in athletics and developed lifelong relationships with teachers and coaches. This translated into a desire to teach and coach. Working with young people is more than a job for Robert. He is truly passionate about helping students and athletes recognize the value of hard work and dedication to being their best. Encouraging, motivating, and impacting are words that best describe the skills Mr. Cash uses to support the dreams and goals of his students both in the classroom and on the cross country course.”

Sarah Long – Music Teacher at West Middle School

West Principal Curtis Layton said, “Sarah Long does much to enrich the lives of her students by providing a musical environment in which to find their voice and achieve their goals and dreams. This is accomplished through her passion for teaching, her talent and expertise in music, and an enthusiastic and energetic personality. Mrs. Long’s innovative and energetic teaching style provides a platform for her students to find their voice through song. Participation in Sarah Long’s vocal program gives students an opportunity to discover their talent, develop their self-confidence, or simply experience learning through music. Mrs. Long’s passion for teaching and love of music is most visible when her students perform or participate in competition. Not only does Mrs. Long impact the students of West, but she also serves as a leader in statewide vocal music organizations. She is actively involved in Circle the State with Song and mentors beginning vocal teachers when asked. Sarah Long is dedicated to using her own voice to provide opportunities for others to find theirs.”

Michael Grimes – Geology/General Physics/Chemistry Teacher at Ponca City Senior High School

“Michael Grimes helps his students find their voice and achieve their goals and dreams by building relationships,” said Po-Hi Principal Kent Marshall. “Michael structures his class according to his students’ needs. He helps bring learning to his classroom based upon years of experience and listening to his students. Through these experiences, he is able to provide feedback that is meaningful. He dares his students every day to dream and speak up for their future. Michael is an outstanding educator.”

Ami Nichols– English 3 Teacher at Ponca City Senior High School

Po-Hi Principal Kent Marshall said, “Ami Nichols helps her students find their voice and achieve their goals and dreams by building relationships. Ami will help guide her students while allowing them to find their way. She spends time not only academically, but socially as well. It is important to her that every student is college ready. Her students will voice their concerns and needs, and she works hard to mold each student’s learning to those needs. Ami is an outstanding educator.”