PCPS Announces District Teacher of the Year Nominees

Mike Seals - April 23, 2021 10:49 am

The Ponca City Public School District is proud to announce and honor the 2022 district Teacher of the Year (TOY) nominees. The District Teacher of the Year will be announced at the annual TOY Celebration hosted virtually by the district on April 29, 6:00 p.m.

Cherie Brigman-Hampl, Traci McHenry, and Holly Stein 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 are announced, the TOY Committee has the difficult task of selecting three finalists for the esteemed District Teacher of the Year honor. Each site TOY nominee is listed below along with information about each of them.

Finalist Cherie Brigman-Hampl – English Teacher at East Middle School

East Middle School Principal Denton Long said, “It would be extremely difficult to find a more devoted and selfless team member than Mrs. Hampl. She often goes beyond the realm of her duties to help out members of her Professional Learning Community (PLC), Team, and anyone associated with Ponca City Public Schools regardless of position or subject area.”

“When I need someone to head up a special activity or project, she never hesitates to take responsibility, and she will always do the task to the best of her ability. Cherie is loved by her students and peers and she is always a positive influence on our staff. Cherie Brigman-Hampl is a shining example of what a teacher should be, and we are extremely blessed to have her at East Middle School!”

Finalist Traci McHenry – 2nd Grade Teacher at Union

“Traci McHenry exemplifies teaching at its finest,” said Union Principal Jennifer Dye. “She has a great attitude and shares her enthusiasm with her students and colleagues. Traci works tirelessly to make sure her students get the best education possible. No one gets more excited than Traci to watch her students grow! She is a team player and is always happy to help or share ideas with others. She is a true example of what teachers should strive to be.”

Finalist Holly Stein – 2nd Grade Teacher at Trout

Trout Principal Carla Fry explained, “Holly is a 21st century teacher. She sees the value of technology and embeds it into planning lessons for her second graders. She utilizes interesting video clips to introduce lessons. Her students are known for their dance moves they learn during brain breaks. She is a teacher her students will always remember.”

Terry Wetzel – 1st Grade Teacher at Garfield

Terry Wetzel is a first grade teacher at Garfield elementary. Her principal Katy Thomason said, “She is one of the most caring and hardworking teachers I’ve ever met. She goes above and beyond for her students to meet all of their needs.”

“One thing that is special about Mrs. Wetzel is how much she truly impacts every student and they feel special and loved in her classroom. She is an absolute treasure and we are blessed to have her at Garfield.”

Valerie Fisher – Instructional Coach at Liberty

“Our Liberty team is truly better because Valerie Fisher is a part of it,” said Liberty Principal Lori Cox. “Valerie is our instructional coach and is a wonderful mentor, coach, and coworker. Her positive attitude and love for all students shines though in everything she does.”

“She spends several hours a week in classrooms modeling structures and learning practices. She is part of our building leadership team and is always willing to help coworkers and students anyway she can. We are so proud to have her representing Liberty this year for the 2022 Teacher of the Year.”

Irene Sanchez – Kindergarten Teacher at Lincoln

Lincoln Principal Liz Hargraves reported, “Irene Sanchez has the Wildcat Spirit. Her commitment to her students is amazing. She is in a daily pursuit of providing the best learning strategies she possibly can for each kindergarten student that passes through her class.”

“Although this year has been challenging, Mrs. Sanchez had persistently been in the hunt of developing her technology skills so that her students were prepared for distance learning. As a principal, it’s exciting to be able to walk into a teacher’s room and recognize how much the students love their teacher. This is what I get to experience in room 124 at Lincoln Elementary.”

Terri Wilson – PE Teacher at Roosevelt

“Terri Wilson is a daily example of grit and commitment,” said Roosevelt Principal Ronda Merrifield. “In this Covid year, she has been innovative with distance learning, flexible with scheduling, and shows up with her Wildcat spirit everyday…regardless of the weather! We are proud of Terri Wilson, the driving force behind our successful PE program.”

Johnathan Coleman, 5th Grade Teacher at Woodlands

Tim Williams, Woodlands Principal, said, “Mr. Coleman is an amazing teacher. He develops engaging, memorable lessons for his students. As they learn, his students are up and moving much of the time.”

“He adds much value to the Woodlands team. On non-Covid years, other teachers often ask his class to visit theirs to teach them fun learning and review strategies. I appreciate the difference Mr. Coleman makes at Woodlands.”

Kendra Smith – Pre-Kindergarten Teacher at Washington PreK Center

“We are honored to have Kendra Smith represent our school as our 2022 Teacher of the Year nominee,” according to Washington PreK Principal Tina Fisher. “Mrs. Smith believes in the Wildcat Way; she lives it and leads her students and fellow teachers by way of example. When it comes to Work Ethic, I can depend on Mrs. Smith to always give 110%.”

“She comes in early, stays late and works very hard to ensure her students have everything they need. With 29 years of experience, Mrs. Smith continues to Improve her practice by trying new strategies and techniques to engage the students and help them reach their goals. Mrs. Smith is a Leader among our staff. She is well respected and valued.”

“Her colleagues look to her for guidance and support. We depend on her knowledge and experience to help make decisions on our leadership and safety committees. Mrs. Smith is known for her self-discipline. She likes rules and structure, so much of her student successes are attributed to her unwavering effort towards achievement.”

“Mrs. Smith is Competitive in a way that allows herself to push her students towards success by never giving up on them. When her students meet goals, they celebrate in a big way! Attitude is very important at Washington, it is part of who we are. Mrs. Smith’s attitude every day inspires other people.”

“When she talks about her students, her face actually lights up. When there are tough situations, Mrs. Smith takes time to reflect on the situation and can always discuss what we’ve learned and how we can improve. She is a problem solver. Even though her best ideas come to her at 3:00 in the morning, she’s always ready with a plan.”

“Mrs. Smith truly wants the very best for our school. She believes in the power of Teamwork and what we can accomplish together. Mrs. Smith, we are sincerely proud of you and honored to have you as our Teacher of the Year.”

Kathryn Combs – 7th Grade Language Arts Teacher at West Middle School

“Kathryn Combs is in her second year of teaching 7th grade ELA at West Middle School,” explained West Principal Stacey Sattre. “However, if you were to walk into her classroom at any given moment, you wouldn’t ever believe she is in her second year of teaching. Mrs. Combs is a teacher that students gravitate towards.”

“Students truly enjoy being in her class and that is evident in the classroom culture she has created for her students. She is a team player and is willing to go above and beyond what is asked of her. Mrs. Combs represents all of the attributes of the Wildcat Way and models that for her students on a daily basis. West Middle School is proud to call Mrs. Combs as one of our candidates for Teacher of the Year.”

Stacy Pinney – Family & Consumer Science Teacher at West Middle School

West Middle School Principal Stacey Sattre says, “Stacy Pinney teaches Teen Living at West Middle School. Students love being in Ms. Pinney’s classes! She incorporates excitement into her classes with her ‘out of the box’ thinking and how to get her students more engaged in her lessons. Ms. Pinney loves what she teaches, and that love of teaching spills over into her students’ love of learning.”

“Ms. Pinney is one of the most positive people I know. She finds a positive in every situation no matter how challenging. The attributes of the Wildcat Way are things Ms. Pinney lives by each day. West Middle School is proud to call Ms. Pinney as one of our candidates for Teacher of the Year.”

Jill Klein – Math Teacher at Ponca City Senior High

“Mrs. Klein demonstrates what it is to be a member of Ponca City Public Schools by modeling care, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude to her students,” explained Po-Hi Principal DaLana Hawkins. “Her positive attitude towards learning is contagious. She cares for her students’ overall well-being and goes above and beyond to make sure they enjoy their time here at Po-Hi, as well as receive the best education possible.”

“Mrs. Klein exhibits high expectations for every student. She teaches her students they can be successful in all aspects of life. She is frequently seen talking to students about their future and how to set and reach individual goals. Ponca City High School is fortunate to have such a caring and hard-working teacher like Mrs. Klein.”

Paula Macpherson-Cochran – District-Wide Orchestra Director at Ponca City Senior High

Po-Hi Principal DeLana Hawkins reported, “Mrs. Cochran is a dedicated member of Ponca City Public Schools. Mrs. Cochran works very hard at her craft, and it shows as she is teaching her students. She is enthusiastic about teaching and goes the extra mile to help students develop tools to be successful in high school as well as life. Not only does she strive for student growth in the short four years she has them, but Mrs. Cochran’s efforts also help mold students to be successful in their future endeavors.”

“Mrs. Cochran’s dedication also benefits the staff in the Ponca City School District, as she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience with multiple sites. Ponca City High School is very fortunate to have a teacher like Mrs. Cochran who exhibits a great work ethic, creativity, and flexibility daily to the students and staff. Ponca City High School will be forever grateful for the impact that she has made on our students.”

Kelsey Fortney – Math Teacher at Ponca City Senior High

According to Po-Hi Principal DaLana Hawkin, “Mrs. Fortney is very passionate about teaching students. She models respect and kindness for others. She has high expectations for all of her students and supports them in their journey to reach goals in both the classroom and in life. She strives each day to support each student’s growth and learning.”

“Mrs. Fortney’s professionalism and kindness demonstrates what it is to be a member of Ponca City Public Schools. Her students know they are going to be pushed to reach their potential, yet will be supported throughout the journey. She exhibits all characteristics of the Wildcat Way and teaches her students to do the same. Ponca City High School appreciates Mrs. Fortney and her impressive efforts for students and colleagues.”

Mandy Fields – Language Arts Teacher at Wildcat Academy

“Mrs. Fields is very deserving of Teacher of the Year honors,” stated Po-Hi Principal DaLana Hawkins. “She embodies the qualities of the Wildcat Way. This school year has been difficult for everyone and Ms. Fields has stepped up in a huge way. Her willingness to train and work with other teachers in the district was invaluable this year. She willingly worked with secondary teachers that were new to the Edgenuity program.”

“Ms. Fields helped them create classes and continues to offer support. Working with students is where Ms. Fields excels. Her ability to build relationships and connect with students is absolutely her strength. It is especially heart-warming to see her make a connection with a student who is struggling emotionally. Ms. Fields has the unique ability to instill confidence in all of her students. They know that she sincerely cares about each of them. Wildcat Academy is extremely fortunate to have Ms. Fields as our English teacher!”


Latest Stories

Report finds Colorado was built on $1.7 trillion of land expropriated from tribal nations

By GRAHAM LEE BREWER Associated Press (AP) — A report published this week by a Native...

Oklahoma man pleads not guilty in pipe bomb attack on Massachusetts group Satanic Temple

BOSTON (AP) — An Oklahoma man accused of throwing a pipe bomb at the Massachusetts headquarters...


The Transportation Security Administration is making changes to security at Will Rogers World Airport after an Edmond man was arrested...