The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 12, 2013

Teacher of the Year candidates revealed

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The slate of candidates for Enid Public Schools Teacher of the Year includes 16 teachers — one for each school.

A district winner, who will go on to compete for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, will be announced in May.

The school teachers of the year are:

• Ann Allen, science teacher at Lincoln Academy. Allen is a teacher of 29 years who has been with EPS one year.

“One of my goals has been to strive to touch each student in a positive manner,” Allen said. “The daily struggles and needs of the students are always present as they adjust from basic survival skills to competing in this ever-changing technological society. I would like to think that I have contributed in some way to their ability to handle these challenges and diversities in a manner of self-reliance and adaptability.”

• Sue Dell is a second-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School. Dell has been a teacher 35 years, five of them with EPS.

“I want to create a safe environment where children are excited to explore and discover,” Dell said. “It is important that the children in my room be excited about learning with activities that are developmentally and age appropriate. I strive to give each child experiences at their level that they can understand and succeed at.”

• Kathryn Dorton has spent two years as music teacher at Adams Elementary School.

“What I love most about teaching is the ability to share music with the students and to provide a positive outlet for them to express themselves,” Dorton said. “It’s enjoyable to see the students’ reactions when they understand and appreciate the music that they most often would not be exposed to.”

• James Ebel teaches eighth-grade history at Longfellow Middle School. He has been teaching 11 years, all of them with EPS.

“I do not have a single moment that I could consider my proudest,” Ebel said. “Rather, every time I attend the EHS graduation, I listen for the names of all the students I have taught that are graduating. To know that I played a part in their success makes me proud. Seeing former students out in public and having them come up to me and tell me how they are doing makes me feel proud to have contributed.”

• Lisa Eldora is a band teacher at Waller Middle School. She has spent 13 of her 16 years in education at EPS.

“I love being able to share my love of music with my students and helping them to appreciate all different kinds of music,” Eldora said. “It is such a joy being able to spend my day making music with my students and helping them to learn to work as a team toward a common goal.”

• Reba Gregory teaches first grade at Hayes Elementary School. She has been teaching 16 years, 14 of them with EPS.

“The thing I love most about teaching is every day is different,” Gregory said. “It doesn’t matter how long I have taught or that I have taught the same material the previous year; the students will always be different. The relationships I form with my students leads to a year full of surprises, joys, and challenges. As a teacher, I don’t just teach content; I teach my students through the relationships and bonds I form with them.”

• Natalie Holland teaches kindergarten at Garfield Elementary School. All three of her years as a teacher have been with EPS.

“To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world,” Holland said. “This quote absolutely sums up both what I love about education and my goal in the classroom. I love making a difference and being a positive role model for my students. As an educator, we spend our days molding and shaping young lives. My career as a teacher is an extremely rewarding one. I know I make a difference, and I strive to daily.”

• Rob Kappus is a science teacher at Emerson Middle School. He has taught for EPS all 12 of his years as a teacher.

“I enjoy interacting with the students and being able to watch them take pride in demonstrating their knowledge of a concept that was once difficult for them,” Kappus said.

• Nicole Moneypenny teaches kindergarten at Hoover Elementary School. She has taught with EPS for six years.

“My goals within the classroom are to assess each child and differentiate their learning experiences based on each individual’s needs, reaching each child where they need it the most; to make learning fun and memorable, in so doing, building experiences that will last a lifetime; and to leave lasting legacies of kindness, respect for others, a love of learning, independence, and intellectual growth within the students,” Moneypenny said.

• Robin Newby is a kindergarten teacher at Taft Elementary School. She has spent 30 of her 31 years as a teacher with EPS.

“Kindergarten and the 5- and 6-year-old students are what I love the most about teaching,” Newby said. “I teach for the tall ones, the short ones, the ornery ones and the ones who need me the most.”

• Linda Outhier is a drama and debate teacher at Enid High School. A teacher for 18 years, Outhier has been with EPS seven years.

“I love the interaction with the kids,” Outhier said. “I love getting to know these students and hopefully pulling something out of them that they did not know they possessed. I love seeing that ‘aha’ moment with kids, when they really seem to be getting a concept. I love to see them recognize their own improvement and growth.”

• Melissa Ross is a first-grade teacher at Prairie View Elementary School. Two of her eight years teaching have been at EPS.

“My goal each day in the classroom is to make learning fun for my students,” Ross said. “I try to make learning irresistible to my first-graders through games, songs, dance, and technology. As they are meeting the Common Core Standards in my room, their creativity is shining through. With each new book they publish and milestone they reach, I want them to develop a lifelong love of reading and learning. I work daily to create a supportive, nurturing environment for them where they aren’t afraid to take risks and try new things.”

• Kellie Stock is a music teacher at Coolidge Elementary School. Two of her eight years as a teacher have been with EPS.

“I love overcoming any challenge a student may present with the power of positivity,” Stock said. “Whether behavioral, emotional or social, I focus on being so positive that students have no choice but to enjoy music in my class. I get a thrill out of building relationships with students, finding their strengths, and creating opportunities for them to shine and excel through music and feel proud of themselves. It’s very rewarding knowing that many of my students will continue to pursue new ways to experience, create, and appreciate music in the future.”

• Eddie Lou Strimple is a music teacher at McKinley Elementary School. She has taught with EPS all 42 of her years as a teacher.

“I love knowing that perhaps today I made the pathway of a young life take a little turn for the better,” Strimple said. “I hope that all the twists and turns that we create as educators are forging a brighter future for each child and for the world we live in. I am thankful to be one of a very special group of people called educators.”

• Betsy Weaver is a first-grade teacher at Monroe Elementary School. She has been a teacher 15 years, five of those years with EPS.

“My proudest moment happens each time I see a former student or their parents and they greet me with a smile and kind words,” Weaver said. “I know that I had a positive impact in another person’s life. That is the rewarding part of teaching.”

• Deni Williams teaches first grade at Glenwood Elementary School. All 20 years of her career as a teacher have been with EPS.

“Teaching is what I was created to do — I never had a choice,” Williams said. “It is a prized honor and humbling reward. Each child is a unique gift. Within each child lies unlimited potential and infinite capacity.

“Having the responsibility and privilege of guiding that child through intellectual, social and emotional paths of development is an immeasurable treasure. We approach each day with a sense of adventure and wonder, energy and excitement. I embrace the unlimited possibilities before me.

“To see the lights in their eyes as they progress through each new venture has enriched my life in a myriad of ways.”