Oklahoma teacher of the year is Jon Hazell of Durant

Jon Hazell, a science teacher at Durant High School, was named Oklahoma’s 2017 Teacher of the Year at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

Mike Doudican, a U.S. history and government teacher at Glenpool High School in the Glenpool Public School District, was runner-up for the state title.

A graduate of Durant High School, Hazell has taught anatomy, biology and environmental science for 33 years in the Durant Independent School District. In addition to teaching, he is the lead pastor at United Church of Tishomingo.

“My purpose as a teacher is not so much to motivate my students as it is to create an environment where they motivate themselves,” Hazell wrote in his state Teacher of the Year application.

“Jon has a true servant’s heart, giving back to his neighbors and teaching his students to do the same,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said. “From sponsoring food, clothing and toy drives to raising money for a student stricken with leukemia, Jon is a gifted, inspiring speaker who will be a tremendous ambassador for the profession. In Durant, he is near the border of Texas, where a teacher could earn more, but his commitment is to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma.”

Hazell said he was inspired to teach by his father, Don Hazell, who taught biological sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for 32 years.

“I grew up with constant reminders and affirmation of the respect afforded to the teaching profession. That created a spark in me,” the new Oklahoma Teacher of the Year said. “It showed the influence a teacher could have not only on students, but also on all the people those students influenced.”

Hazell helps inmates learn to read and complete their GEDs as part of his five-county prison ministry. Sponsor of the Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school, he is also the ropes course lead facilitator at Crosspoint Camp on Lake Texoma. The course is designed to enhance student cooperation and teamwork.

Hazell succeeds Shawn Sheehan, a special education and Algebra I teacher from Norman High School. Over the last year, Sheehan has interacted with more than 10,000 people during nearly 100 visits to schools, conferences and communities in the state and around the nation. Sheehan was one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.

Hazell will remain in his classroom for the rest of the school year. Starting July 1, 2017, he will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession. Sheehan will continue to tour the state until July in addition to his classroom duties. Hazell will accompany Sheehan to select speaking engagements.

Some other state Teacher of the Year finalists were:

  • Brittany Hix, Jenks West Intermediate School, Jenks Public Schools
  • Kay Morris, Verdigris Lower Elementary School, Verdigris Public Schools