2023 Teacher Of The Year Finalists Announced


Wednesday, October 12th 2022, 4:43 pm

By: News 9, News On 6


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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister revealed the 12 finalists for Oklahoma’s next Teacher of the Year.

“These finalists represent some of the top teaching talent in Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said. “They are exceptional individuals who have a tremendous heart for their students and an unwavering dedication to the teaching profession.”

The 2023 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year will be named in March. Beginning July 1, the honoree will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s ambassador for teachers. Teacher of the Year finalists are selected by a cross-section of leading educators, lawmakers and civic leaders representing all regions of the state.

The 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Rebecka Peterson, will continue touring Oklahoma until July.

Hofmeister was joined by the finalists during an announcement Wednesday at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

A full list of the finalists can be found below:

Kelsee Arnold, 3rd-5th grade Gifted and Talented Teacher 

Spring Creek Elementary and Aspen Creek Elementary School (Broken Arrow Public Schools) 

“The relationships I’ve had the privilege of cultivating throughout the years with students are not only dear to my heart, but are truly my proudest achievement. It is an honor to witness kids’ dreams come to fruition, knowing that our reach is impacting future successes, and doing it hand-in-hand with other heart-driven, passionate educators.” 

Marcy Boudreaux-Johnson, kindergarten-3rd grade reading intervention teacher 

Prairie Vale Elementary School (Deer Creek Public Schools) 

“To this day I remember the teachers who helped to make me feel confident and comfortable in my learning environment. I work hard to be that teacher for students on our campus. An outstanding teacher, in my opinion, will meet a child where they are, not only academically but also emotionally, and guide them to academic achievements within the classroom.” 

Emily Boyett, speech-language pathologist 

Frontier Elementary School (Edmond Public Schools) 

“Effective educators are flexible and innovative, adapting to meet the various needs of their classroom. They know and remember their ‘why’ and find joy in the most difficult of days or in the smallest of their students’ achievements. My philosophy of teaching is that every human, no matter how physically or cognitively involved or complex, deserves the freedom of self-expression and the dignity of inclusion and acceptance.” 

Rob Bradshaw, 5th-8th grade orchestra instructor 

Longfellow Middle School (Norman Public Schools) 

“I love the challenge of teaching middle school students. They come to class with a variety of energy levels, passions and their own unique brand of drama, but they are also at a place where they are inspired by so many different thoughts and ideas, and are willing to try most things. I strive to build a unique relationship with each of my students in their time in my classroom so that they feel comfortable and safe even when things are not going their way.” 

Julie Cryer, middle school band teacher 

Jenks Middle School (Jenks Public Schools) 

“The lessons learned and applied in teaching are not linear, but rather they intertwine like a web. My teaching philosophy is really the encapsulation of personal connectivity, a high level of pedagogy, firm boundaries and high expectations. They all affect each other. Each day in the classroom brings new challenges and new opportunities for growth.” 

Traci Manuel, 10th grade advanced English II teacher 

Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa Public Schools) 

“On my road to becoming a teacher, I have taken the road that Robert Frost discussed in the poem, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ where he said, ‘I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference.’ Just like I took a different path to become a teacher, I desire to inspire my students to take that path in learning to unlock their potential of brilliance.” 

Rexanne McCrary, 11th-12th grade AP language and composition teacher and virtual English teacher 

Union High School (Union Public Schools) 

“One of the things I do to strengthen and improve the teaching profession is using my creativity to develop ideas that help students not only inside the classroom, but outside the classroom as well. The teaching profession is not limited to a room. To teach the importance of observation, I take my students on walks inside and outside the school to learn how to take in their surroundings and the impact those observations can have.” 

Tenille Mehl, 4th-5th grade school counselor 

Pioneer Elementary School (Noble Public Schools) 

“Outstanding teachers are chameleons. They are characterized best by their willingness to change, innovate, self-reflect and be present. The biggest reward that I find in teaching is the love that I am able to give and receive.” 

Julie Osburn, 2nd grade teacher 

Lincoln Elementary School (Pryor Public Schools) 

“I see myself in many of the learners I have worked with. Over the years I have gained a toolbox of ideas that continuously grows, to help learners self-regulate in and out of the classroom. It is so rewarding to work with a learner that has struggled in the past and watch them feel success.” 

William Peeper, 10th-12th grade history teacher 

Cushing High School (Cushing Public Schools) 

“Getting students to engage with the content matter and each other is really the essence of all that I do within the walls of my classroom. It is a priority of mine every new school year to develop a considerate and compassionate classroom culture in which we can all learn, grow, be challenged and show support to each other.” 

Steven Smith, high school art teacher 

Life Ready Center (Lawton Public Schools) 

“My philosophy of teaching art aligns with my philosophy of life. I’m a constructivist. Humans build knowledge by engaging the world and making connections.” 

Alona Whitebird, high school social studies teacher 

Southmoore High School (Moore Public Schools) 

“An outstanding teacher is someone who goes beyond the content to see their students. Fantastic teachers are passionate about their subject area, but, more importantly, they are passionate about being a cheerleader for their students. I believe fantastic teachers are a model for their students, showcasing the tenets of hard work, dedication and perseverance.” 


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