Dr. White added to Educators Hall of Fame

Ponca City Now - August 11, 2015 12:52 pm

Four new members were recently inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame. One of those new inductees was former Ponca City School Superintendent Dr. Bill White.

Other inductees included Janet L. Cunningham, Kara Gae Wilson-Neal, and John M. Woods. The event was held at Quail Creek Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City.

Several Ponca City School employees and guests attended the event. Attendees included Superintendent Dr. David Pennington; former assistant superintendent Dr. Joe Surber and his wife Jody; board member Marvin Clark; Brenda Storie, Executive Director of Finance; Executive Director of Operations Bret Smith and his wife Kay; Barbara Davis and her husband John, and Public Information Coordinator Mary Ladd.

One of the attendees was State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

“ The achievements and the impact these individuals have made in education are undeniable,” Hofmeister said.

Pennington introduced White.

"During my tenure I have had the opportunity to work with many outstanding classroom teachers and administrators throughout Oklahoma. It is my belief that induction into the Hall of Fame is for those who have left a permanent mark on the communities where they have served, have made significant contributions to Oklahoma education, have helped develop the next generation of teachers and leaders, and have helped make the world in which we live a better place. I can think of no one I have known during my professional career in Oklahoma more deserving of this honor than Dr. Bill White," Pennington said.

In his acceptance speech, White attributed his success to "standing on the shoulders of giants." He was referring to many of the outstanding state educators who “mentored me, carried me and let me stand on their shoulders.”

“ I have many superintendent stories,” White said. However, one story from Ponca City stands out for me. During my first year as superintendent in Ponca City, I met with the Ponca City Ministerial Alliance. They wanted to know the challenges we were facing in Ponca City. My list was fairly long, but I finally got to one that I thought was critical — our dropout rate. At that time, we were losing one in three of our high school students as dropouts. As I started to explain all the reasons students drop out of school, one of the pastors yelled out across the room, ‘How can we help.’ I responded by saying loan me one of your church nurseries you only use on Sunday, and if I can figure out how to take care of some newborn babies, I think I can get some of these teenage moms back in school to graduate.”

As a result of that initial meeting, the Teen Mom program was born as a partnership between Ponca City Schools, First Baptist and First United Methodist Churches. Although the program is no longer housed at the church, it is still going strong in the district today and has graduated many students over the years.

“ This program met a need and opened our eyes to the needs of all students. I want to always be a champion for public education,” he said.

Nominees for the Hall of Fame are evaluated in seven areas: professional experience, recognitions and awards, professional model, research, educational service, community service and leadership. The Educators Hall of Fame was started in 1984 as a nonprofit organization to recognize and honor those professionals who have exemplified a commitment of quality public-supported education while demonstrating exceptional abilities in realizing the ideals of research, service or leadership through their contribution to Oklahoma education.


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