The Three Finalists Are . . .

Ponca City Now - March 3, 2015 4:54 pm

Ponca City Public Schools have announced the 2016 site Teacher of the Year nominees. The District Teacher of the Year will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year Banquet on March 12 at the Senior High School.

“We are proud of our educators and believe they deserve this kind of recognition," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Pennington . "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 Teach Like a Pirate , and it focuses on what it means to be a PIRATE – Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation and Enthusiasm.

The guest list includes more than 200 people.

The Three Finalists Are . . .

Christie Brown, Jennifer Dye and Dan Larson 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:

Finalist Christie Brown – 1st Grade Teacher at Liberty

“As the Liberty Teacher of the Year, Ms. Brown was chosen as the teacher who teaches most like a pirate,” said Liberty principal Jill Henderson. “She plans and prepares each day as an adventure using a map of instruction to guide her students, treating each and every student in her classroom as a daily treasure.

"A quote by William Arthur Ward states, ‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’ I have the opportunity to observe Ms. Brown as she teaches daily with passion, engagement, and inspiration. Ms. Brown is one of the most hardworking, dedicated, and caring teachers I have had the honor of watching work with children. It feels safe, warm, and comfortable to be in her classroom. Liberty students who have passed through her classroom in the last 20 years are surely blessed. Their lives are better for having been inspired by Ms. Brown.”

Finalist Jennifer Dye – Pre-K Teacher at Union

“Pirates are maximizers of potential," Union principal Dr. Trina Resler said .

"Jennifer gets the most out of her students; she maximizes their potential by creating an engaging and energetic learning environment. Pirates are captains of their ship. She tackles initiative and responsibility with ease and confidence. Pirates are optimistic. Jennifer takes on the tough issues and sees promise in how they will benefit students. Pirates are passionate and enthusiastic. Jennifer comes to work every day with a smile on her face making an indisputable positive impact on the lives of children. Pirates are not afraid to sail into the unknown. Sometimes with 4 year olds, things are unknown… She works with that and lays the best foundation possible ensuring a future full of hope and promise. Jennifer Dye teaches like a pirate.”

Finalist Dan Larson – Orchestra Director at Senior High School

“Mr. Larson is a picture of consistent professionalism,” said Po-Hi principal Thad Dilbeck. “He is very passionate about his orchestra and the successes of his students. He cares deeply about the entire student experience while students are at Po-Hi. He expects his young musicians to work hard in the classroom and the rehearsal room. Mr. Larson has created a rigorous Fine Arts program that propels students to achieve beyond what was thought possible. His orchestra is as accomplished as any you’ll find in Oklahoma. Mr. Larson is definitely a ‘PIRATE.” His enthusiasm for music is infectious, and his rapport with his students is ideal. Ponca City High School is lucky to have Mr. Larson.”

Denise Baldwin – 5th Grade Teacher at Garfield

“Have you met Denise? If you look up passion in the dictionary, you will find her picture there in place of a definition," said Garfield’s principal Lori Cox . "She immerses her students in hands-on learning activities that allow them to actively manipulate the content. She uses Phillips 66 employees as volunteers every Thursday to help with some of these activities in science. She has an incredible rapport with her students. They not only love her, but respect her and want to be a better person because of her and her belief in their ability to do great things.

"Mrs. Baldwin asks her students to analyze everything from reading passages to the scientific process. Students walk into her class as elementary students and walk out in May transformed into thinkers, ready for the rigors of middle school.

"Denise Baldwin always has a smile on her face and spreads her enthusiastic attitude for teaching and learning everywhere she goes. Garfield is a much brighter place because of her attitude and never-ending smile.”

Dana Castleman – 2nd Grade Teacher at Lincoln

“Dana Castleman is a teacher whose words, enthusiasm, and energy spill over into others around her,” said Lincoln principal Liz Hargraves.

“She has a passion for teaching second grade. She immerses herself in her work to ensure that instruction, combined with positive behavioral strategies, creates a caring community in her classroom. High expectations for her students’ behaviors as well as their academics are mandated in her classroom. Dana uses information from her evaluations to become a better teacher. The rapport she has with her students is amazing. It is important for her students to develop good citizenship skills to learn what community is all about. She always treats students fairly and respectfully.

"Besides analyzing data of her students, she analyzes her teaching. She reflects to adjust her instruction so that her students are successful. When it comes to transformation, Dana is a star. She believes that classroom management is always a work in progress. She looks forward to implementing new strategies and techniques at all times. Enthusiastic is what Dana is known for. She is the first one to volunteer for something, especially when it comes to technology. She is a lover of learning.”

Katharine Schelp – Music Teacher at Roosevelt

“Katie Schelp is the PIRATE of the Roughrider ship when it comes to inspiring students to nurture their love of music,” said Roosevelt principal Ronda Merrifield. “Her passion for music transforms our Reveille into a daily musical education experience. Before the first bell rings, she asks our students to listen and analyze pieces of music. She immerses our students into a vast range of instrumental, danc, and singing opportunities. Without AAAAARRRRRGGGGument, Mrs. Schelp’s enthusiasm for music creates a unique rapport with her students from Pre-K to 5th grade.”

Rudonna Bailey – 2nd Grade at Trout

“Rudonna Bailey displays passion for her students and her profession in many ways, Trout principal Carla Fry said . "Each year, she builds relationships with her students. She provides a listening ear and teaches to the strengths of her students. Mrs. Bailey’s class logged the highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their projected goals on the winter MAP assessment this year. Rudonna Bailey is a teacher her students will always remember.”

Cynthia Johndrow – 3rd Grade Teacher at Woodlands

“Peek through the window of Cindy Johndrow’s class and you will see a teacher with pirate-like qualities . . . of the BEST kind,” said Woodlands principal Becky Krueger. “She is enthusiastic about learning and has intensity for teaching that has made her a successful teacher for nine years. Her rapport with students is amazing. They love her for making learning fun – and, for transforming those young 3rd graders into well-prepared 4th graders. She’s definitely a teacher-pirate we are lucky to have!”

Carole Keffer – English Language Learner Teacher at East Middle School

“Carole Keffer delves into her treasure chest of teaching strategies to help her students immerse themselves with enthusiasm and passion into the English language and culture," East principal Barbara Davis said . "The key to Carole’s success is using her own enthusiasm, passion and desire to create lifelong learners. These efforts ultimately result in building the kind of rapport with her students that encourage them to be creative and give the best of themselves.”

Donya Gartside – 6th Grade Geography Teacher at West Middle School
“Donya Gartside has all the tools necessary to ensure smooth sailing for her students,” said West principal Curtis Layton. “She has a passion for technology and project-based learning and is never afraid to try something new. Donya has the ability to adapt, adjust and make changes on the fly — skills essential in her dynamic classroom.

"Students in Ms. Gartside’s classes are immersed in learning. They are prepared to work in a collaborative environment that celebrates new ideas and multiple perspectives. Donya has a great rapport with her students and goes the extra nautical mile to see that every student is successful! Through creative learning opportunities, Ms. Gartside’s students acquire the ability to analyze information. Sixth graders are transformed by the diverse opportunities to explore the world with Captain Gartside. Donya Gartside strives to develop enthusiastic learners who stretch to reach their potential.”

Kelly Ford – Special Education Math Teacher at West Middle School

“Kelly Ford possesses many qualities that make her a treasure to West Middle School," West principal Curtis Layton said. She has a passion for teaching — recognizing the value and worth of each student. Kelly’s students are immersed in a learning community when they enter her classroom. She works to create a challenging, nurturing environment that coaxes students to reach their potential.

"Ms. Ford’s students are fortunate to have a teacher who is warm and accessible. Her personality enables her to build a rapport with students, staff, and parents. Students in Ms. Ford’s classes know that learning requires them to ask and analyze; they are challenged to question, think, and take ownership of their own learning. Reluctant math learners are transformed by Kelly Ford; she inspires them to meet high expectations. Kelly was born and raised to teach – she enthusiastically works to provide an awesome learning experience for her students.”

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

“Mr. Grimes creates a classroom environment that draws students in with dynamic, fun, and practical examples of how science affects everyone daily,” said Po-Hi principal Thad Dilbeck. “His excitement for teaching and his rapport with students, along with his scientific knowledge, make students look forward to time spent with Mr. Grimes. His ‘PIRATE’ characteristics drive him to be better every day. Mr. Grimes’ love for his profession and for Po-Hi raises the bar for students and professional peers alike. He is continually focused on doing what is best for students and improving the student experience both in and out of his classroom. Ponca City High School is lucky to have Mr. Grimes.”

Krystina Muralt– Algebra 1 and Algebra Plus Teacher at Ponca City Senior High School

Po-Hi principal Thad Dilbeck said, “Mrs. Muralt certainly has all the characteristics that make her a ‘PIRATE’ in the classroom. Her passion for teaching, for consistently going the extra mile to positively affect young people, and her genuine care for student success is evident daily. Students know that Mrs. Muralt has high expectations. They also know she will support, motivate, and encourage them every step of the way. This professional rapport enables Mrs. Muralt to help students realize their full academic potential. Mrs. Muralt is always open to new ideas. She is continually analyzing her classroom practices and student results. She is professionally passionate and enthusiastic about trying to be a better teacher every day. Ponca City High School is lucky to have Mrs. Muralt.”

Rustin Storie – Social Studies at the Alternative Sites

Special Education Director Doug Stafford said, “As a lead teacher running the ship at Marland Children’s Home, Mr. Rustin Storie has demonstrated skill in both operating and commanding his students on a path for success! Rustin has found a fortune of young adults who he inspires to learn. Mr. Storie builds RAPPORT and has a PASSION for making sure he meets students where they are, providing for a smooth sailing experience as his students often move frequently between ships. Mr. Storie has an ability to immerse his students in historical events with enthusiasm. Rustin has practiced transformational leadership and has set a good example for his colleagues and students, alike. Students respect Mr. Storie for the job he does and they recognize his efforts to give them his best. He ASKS the same in return. Rustin possesses many attributes of a successful pirate, who has discovered many treasures, with bravery and a commitment to do what is best for students.”


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