The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 17, 2013

EHS grad, Waukomis native state Teacher of the Year

By Patty Miller, CNHI News Service
Enid News and Eagle

— Peter L. Markes, orchestra and advanced placement music theory teacher at Edmond North High School, was named the 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, during Tuesday’s ceremony at the Oklahoma State Fair.

Markes has 12 years of teaching experience, 11 in his current position and one year of service with Enid Public Schools. He is a native of Waukomis and a 1997 graduate of Enid High School.

“The irony of receiving this award,” Markes said in an emotion-filled voice, “is that I have to leave the students I love working with for a whole year.”

He will serve as Oklahoma’s “Ambassador of Teaching,” giving presentations to teachers and civic groups throughout the state for one year. He was chosen from a field of 12 finalists, including longtime McKinley Elementary School music teacher Eddie Lou Strimple, Enid Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year.

“In more than 20 years of education, Peter represents the best I have worked with,” said Edmond North Principal Jason Pittenger. “His passion, caring commitment and love of music is infectious. His leadership, sensitivity, professionalism and work ethic are admirable. He epitomizes the relentless pursuit of excellence.

“It is a double-edged sword for me as principal; I am thrilled he has the chance to convey to others what teaching in Oklahoma is all about, while at the same time, sad to know his students and I will miss him. Our profession deserves an ambassador that is gifted, articulate, authentic and passionate.”

Markes told the audience he teaches CPR: community, passion, and relevance.

“CPR is in order to revive what is so good about education in Oklahoma,” he said. “Our community, especially our parents, must be engaged for the reinforcing support necessary to educate a child. We must instill in the students the same passion for learning that we have as teachers, with hopes that the students will go home and ignite that same passion in their parents.

“Finally, we must help the students understand that what they are learning is relevant to both their current world and the world that we are planning for in our future.”

Markes grew up in Waukomis and had a master teacher who taught his sixth-grade physical science class, 10th-grade biology class, 11th-grade anatomy and physiology class and 12th-grade teacher cadet program.

“Regardless of the class, the drill was always the same: ‘think,’” Markes said. “His lessons were more like conversations. He talked to us; we talked to him; we all talked with each other. We wrote, he read our essays, and then we talked some more.

“We thought together. Sometimes I felt like the thinking would never end — and often it didn’t — because every day after school, it was this same teacher, my dad, driving me home.”

Markes will represent Oklahoma in the national Teacher of the Year competition in the spring of 2014. He has a bachelor’s degree of music in education, with an emphasis on instrumental music from Oklahoma City University.

“Mr. Markes’ passion for teaching and instilling confidence in his students, as well as his ability to interweave the more rigorous Oklahoma Academic Standards into his classroom work, epitomizes what we strive for in every effective teacher,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. “Choosing between 12 qualified and excellent teachers is almost impossible. Each of our finalists represents the best in Oklahoma education. They instill hope that our children will indeed graduate from their schools ready for college, career, citizenship and anything life may bring their way.”

Committees comprised of teachers, parents and community members selected the 12 finalists, two from each of the six regions in the state. A state committee comprised of education business and civic leaders chose the winner. The state-level competition included individual and group interviews, a written portfolio and personal videos showcasing each finalist’s teaching strategies.

Miller writes for the Edmond Sun.