Teacher of the Year finalists include Tulsa area teachers

Three teachers from Broken Arrow, Jenks and Sand Springs are some of the 12 finalists for Oklahoma’s next Teacher of the Year.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) will announce the winner September 19 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

The nominees in the Tulsa area are:

  • Donna Gradel teaches science at Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow Public Schools. She has been an educator for 29 years and has held her current position for 21 years.
  • Shala Marshall teaches Spanish at Jenks High School in Jenks Public Schools. She has been an educator for 16 years and has held her current position for four years.
  • Janet Johnson teaches science at Clyde Boyd Middle School in Sand Springs Schools. She has been an educator for 19 years and has held her current position for 16 years.

“Classroom teachers are the heart and soul of education, and research tells us they are the most important person in the schoolhouse,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Each of these 12 men and women represents the best of the best of those who have devoted their life to among the most noble and life-changing of professions.”

All finalists are teachers of the year for their districts and were selected after their application packets were reviewed by a panel that included educators, members of the business community, legislators and nonprofit partners.

The 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year will remain in the classroom for the 2017-2018 school year. Beginning July 1, 2018, the honoree 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. The 2017 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Jon Hazell of Durant, will continue to tour the state until July 2018.

The other finalists are:

  • Jill Andrews teaches high school English at Claremore High School in Claremore Public Schools. She has been an educator for 19 years and has held her current position for 12 years.
  • Betty Deen teaches English at Oologah Middle School in Oologah-Talala Public Schools. She has been an educator for 24 years and has held her current position for 19 years.
  • Neeli Boyd teaches first grade at Wiley Post Elementary School in Putnam City Schools. She has been an educator for eight years and has held her current position for two years.
  • Sarah Carter teaches mathematics at Drumright High School in Drumright Public Schools. She has been an educator for five years and has held her current position for five years.
  • Rob Davis teaches history at Yukon High School in Yukon Public Schools. He has been an educator for 15 years and has held his current position for three years.
  • Chad Harper teaches STEM at Mustang High School in Mustang Public Schools. He has been an educator for 18 years and has held his current position for 18 years.
  • Dionne Liebl teaches English at Deer Creek High School in Deer Creek Schools. She has been an educator for 17 years and has held her current position for five years.
  • Christine Mueller teaches band at Moore Central Junior High School in Moore Public Schools. She has been an educator for 23 years and has held her current position for 18 years.
  • Laura Smith teaches band and music at Byng Elementary, Byng Junior High and Byng High School in Byng Public Schools. She has been an educator for 15 years and has held her current position for nine years.

In addition, OSDE named four “Rising Star” teachers. Each is a district Teacher of the Year winner with fewer than seven years in the classroom.

The Rising Stars:

  • Colby McGee teaches agriculture at Allen Public Schools. He has been an educator for two years and has held his current position for two years.
  • Haley Price teaches English at Newcastle High School in Newcastle Public Schools. She has been an educator for four years and has held her current position for four years.
  • Jessi Ross teaches second grade at Mooreland Elementary School in Mooreland Public Schools. She has been an educator for seven years and has held her current position for five years.
  • Madison Wingate teaches pre-kindergarten at Pierce Elementary School in Oklahoma City Public Schools. She has been an educator for four years and has held her current position for four years.