Logo: Oklahoma's Teacher Connection. Minority Teacher Recruitment Center.
Issue: #3 Summer 2011


Happy Summer!


Wow....the fall semester is right around the corner. When I was in the classroom, I always looked forward to the new beginnings that each school year brought - new students, new challenges, and new opportunities. 


This issue of our newsletter highlights many university and student successes, but it also features Dr. Hudecki's vision for future educational opportunities in our state. We also feature a true pioneer in Oklahoma's educational foundation - Clara Luper. Her profound influence in the state can never be forgotten and must continue to be built upon. 


What new opportunities and challenges will we seize to strengthen and impact the kids of our state? 


Have a restful end-of-the-summer, and best of luck for an exciting, opportunity-filled 2011-12 school year!

 Lisa Holder 

Director of Teacher Education and the Minority Teacher Recruitment Center


Oklahoma's Secretary of Education Stresses Common Sense Accountability


This is definitely a season of change in Oklahoma - a change in leadership, mandates, and budget reforms. However, with this change, those involved in education will also see a greater focus on accountability.

Hudecki s 11
Dr. Phyllis Hudecki

Government officials, lawmakers, leaders, education agencies, superintendents, school administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and students will all have the opportunity to work together under these new accountability measures.

Dr. Phyllis Hudecki, the newly appointed Oklahoma Secretary of Education, calls these measures common sense solutions.

Hudecki's education background and career experience make her a perfect fit for the new position - a post that has been empty for almost a decade. Hudecki, a Morris, Oklahoma, native, received her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from Oklahoma State University. Additionally, she holds an Educational Specialist degree in Education Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Connecticut.

She began her career as a teacher. However, over the past 30 years, she has held numerous posts in education, including serving as an administrator at a technical high school in Kansas City, Missouri; holding various positions in the departments of education in Iowa, Missouri, and Massachusetts; and working at the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C. She was also the Associate Director of the National Center for Research in Vocational Education at the University of California-Berkeley.   And she most recently served as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition (OBEC). "I have worked with, in, or for public education for most of my life. I understand the federal side and the state policy side."

Addressing the changes needed in Oklahoma's education system, Hudecki stated, "We are going to have to focus sharply on the core mission of schooling. Schools have become busy places, so busy in fact that we often forget why we are having school," Hudecki said.

For starters, Hudecki stressed that teachers do not need any more mandates. "It is so easy at the state level to develop a policy and roll it out there, and if it is flawed, or if it is sabotaged, we don't bother to evaluate or modify it. When that happens, it is extremely hard to reel it back in. It's difficult to recover from that."

She added that, even although Oklahoma and the country are facing challenges, these challenges give everyone an opportunity on every level to make changes, but points out that these changes must be made with caution. "This isn't original, but I heard someone say education is like placing baby plants in the ground, and if they don't start sprouting and growing within two weeks, then we would pull them up by the roots and put something else in. Instead, let's take a look at the root of the problems. Let's try and get some data instead of passing another law," Hudecki said.

Hudecki stressed, "We need the 'can-do' attitude. We know that we are not going to get a new shipment of parents in Oklahoma. The parents will send us their kids from their homes, and we will have to work with them. We can't find smarter kids. This is the hand we have been dealt. This is the challenge in education. We have to help those kids become bright, creative, capable and successful."

Hudecki also feels a greater emphasis on accountability for school administrators is needed. She stated, "Administrators will be held accountable for the environments in that building. There is nothing worse than going into an environment that is terrible and not conducive to doing your job. It is hard to work in an environment when you are unappreciated and not supported."

Hudecki further emphasizes that support must come from the home. "Ending social promotion is going to get parents' attention faster and in way we have not seen in a very long time. We are serious. We need your help at home, and if you're capable of helping us, then we are going to need you," Hudecki said.

She added that she would like to enlist the support and the help of the various parent organizations to communicate the message of the common core standards, which will implemented by 2014. "I don't think any parent would object to finding out what they need to know about what is coming. I think that they would welcome it, saying great, now, my child will be given the opportunity to learn at a more competitive level and be successful. I don't know of any parent that doesn't want their child to be successful - that's common sense."

"I see opportunity. We are ready for change," Hudecki concluded.

 Locust Grove Gates Scholarship Winners Credit Teachers, Counselor,

 and Hard Work for Their Success 

Gates scholar

The seven Locust Grove Gates Scholars are (from left to right) Sarah Schoolfield, Connie Sinclair, counselor, Trey Fogelman, Skylar James, Gabrielle Nutter, Tyler Littlefield. Back row from left to right: Trey Conner and Jeremiah "Pud" Ross.   


Imagine all your financial woes melting away upon receiving a letter from America's richest man - Microsoft mogul, Bill Gates, net worth $56 billion, according to Forbes 400.


It sounds magical - mystical even! Envision answering your front door at 8 a.m., on Saturday morning to TV cameras and a reporter, who places a microphone in front of your mouth, asking "How do you feel being the Publishers' Clearinghouse Sweepstakes' 2011-12 winner?"


It was all of that and then some for seven Locust Grove seniors after they received notification by mail, announcing that each one of them had been selected as one of the Gates Millennium Scholarship winners. Their scholarships' net worth totaled $3 million, which does not include their Oklahoma's Promise scholarships. 


Their success, however, was no gamble nor did it happen by chance. They all agreed that securing the Gates Scholarship took an enormous amount of hard work, determination, perseverance, and most importantly, the love, help, and support of their teachers, counselor, and parents. 


For Trey Fogleman, Trey Conner, Sylar James, Tyler Littlefield, Sarah Schoolfield, Jeremiah 'Pud' Ross, and Gabrielle Nutter - their dream has come true. 


"When I read my letter, I felt relieved," Sarah Schoolfield said, "I am so thankful that I don't have to worry about how I am going to pay for college. I'm just astonished." 


Gabrielle Nutter said, "I was overjoyed! The essays were the longest and the hardest part of it all." 


"I was speechless," said Jeremiah 'Pud' Ross. 


"We were so relieved," Skylar James, Tyler Littlefield, and Trey Conner said. 


"I thought WOW!!!" Trey Fogleman said. 


"Oklahoma would be considered fifth in nation due of the number of our Gates Scholarship recipients," said Connie Sinclair, Locust Grove counselor. "The hardest part of the entire process is the waiting. These kids have worked hard, and I couldn't be prouder of them," she said. 


Jeremiah Ross or 'Pud' the nickname used by his peers, commented the most difficult part about the process was learning how to control his stress. 


The other scholars laughed as the 6'3', 180 pound star basketball player as he shared his sentiments. "It was plain stressful," Ross said, smiling. 


Each year, the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) program's goal is to promote the highest academic excellence and provide scholarships that are good-through-graduation to 1000 outstanding minority and underserved students to use at any college or university of their choice nationwide. 


"These kids deserve the recognition and the credit. They are great students, and they have shown a lot of commitment, work ethic, and scholarship through the entire Gates scholarship process," Joel Green, Locust Grove principal, said.


Clara Luper Remembered as a Pioneer for Change, a Consummate Teacher 


Clara Luper

Photo by Brandon Clemoens

Compliments of Langston University



At her funeral service on June 17, mourners gathered to pay tribute to Clara Mae Shepard Luper - an extraordinary leader.  She was 88 years old.


Letters of condolence were read from President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Governor Mary Fallin also expressed her sadness for the passing of an ordinary woman, who never took no for an answer. Because of her tenacity, Clara Luper was able to accomplish extraordinary things, and for that, Fallin said, we celebrate her life.

"Who said that one person can't make a difference?" Fallin said. "Clara Luper was a pioneer for change."

Each and every speaker at Luper's life celebration gave an account. Many were passionate and often overcome with tears. Her family, friends, and former students spoke proudly about how the woman from an all black, segregated high school from Grayson, Oklahoma, transformed a way of life for all Oklahomans and the citizens of this nation.

"Clara Luper was a consummate teacher!" Dr. Barbara Posey Jones said. Jones was a former student of Luper's. She was also one of fourteen original 'Sit-Inner'  students instrumental in integrating the Katz Drug Store in 1958.

The historic non-violent 'Sit-In' protest movement desegregated all Katz Drug Stores across the country and other establishments in downtown Oklahoma City. Luper spearheaded the Katz Drug protest and the Oklahoma City sanitation strike that ignited the fight for equal rights, ending desegregation of many establishments across the state and nation.

Dr. Jones  also told the 3000 mourners within the Cox Convention Center that Luper took a busload of students to a national NAACP conference in New York City, and as they travelled, Luper conducted history lessons as they rode from state to state. "When we went down to Katz Drug Store in 1958, she said we are going to sit here until we are served. And we sat there, and the rest is history! She was a strong, black woman," Jones said.

Luper was arrested 26 times, and her list of accomplishments blankets nearly five decades. Her legacy speaks to her commitment for equality for all people; however, her passion was for the children her daughter, Marilyn Luper Hildreth, said.

"My mother always had her students in our home, studying, preparing for a pageant, rehearsing speeches, or preparing to travel to a convention. Our front door remained open," Hildreth said.

"Don't just sit there. Get off of your behinds. Don't just talk about 'these kids.' Do something!" Luper once told an audience of church worshipers.

Luper 's teaching career spanned 40 years in the classroom with Oklahoma City Public Schools, beginning at the then segregated Dunjee High School in Spencer Oklahoma. She also taught at Northwest Classen High School and John Marshall High School respectfully. A sign hung above her classroom door that read, 'Welcome to Luperland.'

Luper was the first African-American to integrate and earn a Master's Degree in History from the University of Oklahoma, and she taught America History, Black History, Oklahoma History, Civics, Government, and Human Relations. Luper received her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Oklahoma's only African-American college - Langston University.

Clyde Taylor, a 1956 Dunjee High School graduate and Luper's first American History Club President, said his former teacher will go down in history as a fighter for African-American rights. "Clara Luper will be remembered as a real, genuine person - a person who fought for what she believed in. I can remember when theaters, restrooms, and buses posted signs that read 'for colored only.' She changed all that! She always spoke her mind, and she taught her students to do the same. Yes, mother Luper, has brought us a mighty, mighty long way." 


Ted Gillispie Retires at the Top of His Game


Ted Gillispie

Ted Gillispie


"Ladies and gentlemen, Ted Gillispie is leaving at the top of his game!" Linda Sholar, Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP) Chair, announced at the close of the agency's June meeting. 


With a golf club in his hand and surrounded by an audience of family, friends, and colleagues, Ted Gillispie, Executive Director for the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation, recently announced that he will be taking off his jacket and calling it quits after completing 13 years with the OCTP. 


Before coming to OCTP, Gillispie spent 30 years as a teacher and as an administrator, and now, he ends his career with a total of 43 years in Oklahoma's public education system. 


During his tenure as an educator, Gillispie was selected as Oklahoma's Secondary Administrator of the Year in 1996-97. He served as president of the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals (OASSP), and chairman of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA). For three years, Gillispie served OASSP as the National Association Secondary Schools Principals' (NASSP) coordinator.   


Gillispie advocates that collaboration and cooperative learning are key players in the reform movement that is sweeping our nation. He also stated that the number one factor in student learning is having a quality, caring teacher in the classroom. 


Gillispie earned a Bachelors of Science in Education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), and a Master's of Arts in Educational Administration from East Central University (ECU). He completed a Standard Administrator's Certificate for both principals and su.perintendents from the University of Oklahoma.  


Linda Reid, the current OCTP Accreditation Program Director, will serve as the interim Executive Director following Gillispie's retirement on August 1.    


Reflecting on his years at OCTP, Gillispie said, "I count my blessing daily to have been able to work with dedicated staff and members both past and present. I sincerely believe any leader is only as successful as the people he/she surrounds her/himself with, and I have been surrounded by the best!"   


Gillispie told a story of how his long-time, trusted friend Chuck McCormick, saw the advertisement for the OCTP Executive Director position in the newspaper and encouraged him to apply.  "I read the ad, and I must admit that I didn't even know anything about the agency. Chuck said, 'you've been a teacher and an administrator,' and then he asked, 'tell me who would be better suited for the job other than you, Ted.' I listened. I applied. And I got the job, and now, here I am," Gillispie chuckled.   

"I've known Ted for over 20 years, and I know him well." McCormick said. " Ted's not going to retire. He will change his focus, but he's not going to retire. He has come such a long way. He serves selflessly and asks nothing in return. I feel blessed to have known him."    


Gillispie may be leaving OCTP, but according to those who know him personally, the avid golfer will only be about five feet from the putting hole - close enough to make a difference, just as he's always done in public education. 


Lisa Holder, Director of Teacher Education at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, agrees, "Ted's devotion to education in the state will no doubt continue on in his retirement. He is a wonderful example of what a true educator should be," she said. 

Education Expert Advocates Enhanced Teacher Preparation 


The plight of boosting student achievement nationwide is directly linked to teacher preparation, according to Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University professor. 


Linda Darling-Hammond was selected as the recipient of the 2011 Brock International Prize for Excellence in Education honoree. She served as the keynote speaker for the 10th annual Brock Symposium on Excellence in Education, which was held at the University of Oklahoma's Thurman J. White Forum Auditorium on April 8.       


Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond

Photo compliments of the University of Oklahoma School of Education 



As the nation scrambles to find innovative ways to offset education budget cuts, to improve deteriorating test scores, and to resolve and blend divided reform measures, Darling-Hammond told the audience of educators that well prepared teachers have a direct impact on student achievement. 


In her keynote address entitled, The Future of Education and Teacher Preparation, Developing Powerful Teaching: The Key to our Educational Future, Darling-Hammond said, "We must keep our eyes on the prize." 


"Teacher learning must be intensified for teaching content in ways that address diverse pupil needs. To attract, prepare, and retained skilled teachers, incentives must be increased. We must expand performance-based assessment that shows how students and teachers are learning. And, we must design schools to focus on powerful teaching and learning for students and teachers," Darling-Hammond said. 


Darling-Hammond said studies show that there are new expectations for student learning which are changing worldwide. Traditional education as we know it has shifted from teacher structured and guided practice to differentiated instruction and the use of creative, scaffolding strategies. And as a result, the teaching focus is now student-centered, engaged, and innovative. 


For the past 20 years, Darling-Hammond has been on the forefront of driving national educational policy. She also served as a leader of the then President-elect Barack Obama's education policy transition team. Education Week identified Darling-Hammond as one the nation's 10 most influential people in education.

Cameron University


The article below is a reprint from Cameron University's Good Stuff School of Education and Behavioral Sciences Newsletter. 


Cameron University's Professor Rolls in Passion and Fun 


Many recognize Dr. Courtney Glazer as the lady with the long, dark curls frequently seen zipping down the halls in her Doc Martins, but to her teacher education candidates, Glazer has served for the past six years as Cameron University's Associate Professor and the Coordinator of Field Experiences. 



Dr. Courtney Glazer 

 When asked what she likes most about Cameron, she replied that she loves the students and her colleagues. 


Glazer grew up in the Dallas area, and as a teenager, she loved to roller skate. She recently recalled that when the parking lot was first completed at the Fitness Center, she said she had a blast using the smooth surface as her personal skating rink. 


A love for travel is Glazer's current passion, as evidenced by her latest adventure to New York City. While there, she enjoyed the sights, sounds, Broadway shows, and museums during her week-long stay in the city that never sleeps. 


Glazer earned a degree in secondary education from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, launching her education career in Allen, Texas, teaching for eight years in both middle school and high school classrooms. 


Glazer began teaching internet courses when the concept was in its infancy and dial-up modems were the norm. Having discovered a love for technology, Glazer returned to school for a master's degree in Learning Design and Technology from Stanford University in California, followed by her PH.D., in instructional Technology from the University of Texas in Austin.

Northeastern State University

Oklahoma and National Teachers of the Year Teach to Inspire 


The 2011-12 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Smith, and National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Brown-Wessling share not only the honor of being recognized as outstanding educators, but they both agree that their profession is their life. 


From left to right: Dr. Deborah Landry; Sara Brown-Wessling, National TOY; Elizabeth Smith, OKTOY; and Dr. Kay Grant, NSU Dean of Teacher of Education


Northeastern State University College of Education in conjunction on with the Minority Teacher Recruitment Center, the Retention Task Force and Kappa Delta Pi hosted its annual Celebration of Teaching in February, featuring the two top educators. 


More than 300 middle and high school students from surrounding school districts, in addition to NSU faculty, staff, and students, converged upon NSU's campus to participate in a full day of interactive workshops. 


Smith told the students, "My job is my life. When I go to Walmart, and I see my students, they remind me of why I teach. I teach because I know I am helping students succeed. Teaching is a challenging profession with no money back guarantees, coupled with the pressures of testing and other mandates. The longer I stay in it, it becomes apparently clear to me the reason I teach. I teach because I know I am making a difference in a child's life. I love my kids!" 


Sara Brown-Wessling expressed the same sentiments. "There's a classroom waiting for you! We teachers have all seen a child's face when he or she has caught onto what is being taught. That is when the child realizes his or her potential. Now, that's the ah-ha moment." 


Brown-Wessling and Smith agree that teachers today are teaching and preparing kids for 21st century jobs, for which they cannot even imagine now. But they both insist that if they can manage to connect, love, and inspire, learning will take place. 


"Gaps in learning become openings when we teach with passion, and we are able to unlock the potential to inspire. Wisdom knows that your classroom is waiting for you," Wessling said.



NSU's Urban Reform Network - TURN


The Northeastern State University Teaching and Urban Reform Network (TURN) is a 16-week program designed to collaboratively pair beginning teacher candidates with top performing urban schools in Tulsa Public School district.

Each TURN candidate is assigned a clinical faculty (mentor teacher) to complete 8 field observations. Clinical faculty evaluates each teacher candidate at the end of the semester.

TURN focuses on a cadre of caring, committed, and creative individuals who want to teach specifically in urban schools. This "out of the box" approach to becoming a teacher allows the selected candidates to immerse themselves in college coursework at the urban school site, joining theory and practice during their initial internship experience.

Dr. Allyson Watson directs the TURN project, and she can be reached at lleggett@nsuok.edu to answer any questions.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University
NWOSU Teacher Candidate Presents Research at the Capitol 
NWOSU Research Day

Northwestern Oklahoma State University Research Team and Oklahoma legislators at the capitol.


Kala Mead, a Natural Science Education major at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU), presented a research project, entitled "Physics in Gymnastics: Wrist Injury and Safety Mats" at Research Day at the Capitol this past spring.


The research results from the study suggested that there is a mathematical function that can be used to predict the minimum safe thickness for tumbling mats based on ages/weights of gymnasts. 


Mead's personal experiences as a gymnast and concerns for youth safety in the sport prompted her interest in conducting the project with the help of her classmate, Cassandra Thompson, a pre-med student. 


Mead will student teach in the Fall of 2011 and is scheduled to graduate with a high school biology teaching certificate from NWOSU in December of 2011.

Oklahoma City University

Project Little Star Safari Shines Light on Free Style Exploration Learning


To kick off "The Week of the Young Child" celebration, Oklahoma City University's (OCU) Early Childhood and Elementary teacher candidates hosted the fourth annual Little Star Safari (LSS) - a "Creative Arts and Activities for Children project" which was held at OCU's Petree College of Arts and Sciences.  


The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sponsored the events in an effort to heighten the awareness of early childhood issues facing parents and educators today. 


Early childhood students participate in LSS project.


LSS is designed to arm OCU's future educators with the experience of how to establish and manage multiple content area centers simultaneously, as well as expand their knowledge base regarding the opportunities and implications for learning through developmentally-appropriate, play-based activities. 


Upon completion of the LSS project, teacher candidates were able to assess each center and determine the effectiveness of student learning. These reflective practices proved valuable in order to make potential improvements and tailor thoughtfully-prepared daily lesson plans.


As an added bonus, parents whose children who attended LSS were given a Parent Packet that contained materials explaining the curricula content, the fine arts activities, and cognitive integration lessons taught. Plus, parents also received a fact sheet that shared how children learn best through play and in true exploration.  

The LSS centers creatively facilitated developmentally-appropriate instruction, utilizing a child self-select model in the areas of art, music and movement, cooking, language, fine motor skills, math, science, and sensory play - all integrated into a 'spring' theme.


A few of the activities aligned with the springtime theme, and they  included holding baby bunnies and candle the egg - an interactive research activity which allows children to hold and observe firsthand how a growing chick develops and hatches. Both indoor and outdoor free style explorations were filtered throughout all centers, integrating the other content areas of water, sensory play, literacy, writing, music/movement, and dramatic play.


The Little Safari Stars project has generated a heavy following primarily because of the many repeat participants who have spread the word that the OCU teacher education candidates continue to produce a truly "win-win" LSS project annually.

Oklahoma Christian University

OC Elementary Major Receives $3000 DaVinci Award

Jerica Briggs, an elementary education major at Oklahoma Christian University was awarded the 2011 DaVinci Scholar in March, receiving $3000 to jump start her first year of teaching in Oklahoma. 


Briggs was recognized for her project, entitled "Water for the World" - a series of lessons for fifth grade students. 

St. Gregory's University

Faculty Member Selected to Attend Workshop  


St. Gregory's University education faculty member Jean Edwards-Hill was one of 15 people from across the United States selected to attend a workshop in Princeton, N.J. The workshop, which was hosted February 23-24 by the Education Testing Service (ETS), was intended to help attendees understand and assess reading proficiency at the 12th-grade level.

Edwards-Hill, along with other educators involved in teaching college-level reading, was invited by ETS to offer her professional expertise. She and others helped to develop a working definition of reading proficiency at the 12th-grade level, providing a benchmark for defining proficiency at lower grade levels.

The workshop was one component of a larger federally funded grant. The focus of the grant is to construct a comprehensive reading assessment that will measure whether a student's reading skills and abilities are sufficient to conclude that he or she is ready to enter college or the workforce.

"It was an honor to be selected to attend the workshop," Edwards-Hill said. "Having the opportunity to provide my insight was great. Even after all my years of teaching, it was a wonderful educational opportunity. Learning is a lifelong experience." 



Oklahoma State University

OSU's 21st Annual OKTOY Celebrates Teachheroes [tee-cher hee-ros]

Oklahoma State University celebrated its 21st annual Celebration of Teaching  in conjunction with the 3rd Biennial ACE, LEAP and FEA conference in Stillwater this past spring. The conference theme, Teachheroes [tee-cher hee-ros], was fitting as students, teachers, administrators and faculty were invited to celebrate the wonderful contributions of teachers in the state and throughout the nation to the field of education.

This year's conference featured Sara Brown Wessling, National Teacher of the Year, and Elizabeth Smith, Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

In addition, the Oklahoma State University Teacher of the Year (OkTOY)organization presented Clarence G. Oliver, Jr. with the Vision Award.

Oliver is Emeritus Dean and Graduate School Professor at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. He is a retired superintendent of Broken Arrow schools, an award-winning journalist, and a former United States Army Infantry officer. Oliver is an officer and member of several state, regional, and national organizations. He is active in church, community, and civic work within his community and region.

Since 2007, the OkTOY organization annually honors those individuals whose foresight, wisdom, and efforts activate reform to enhance the teaching profession and student achievement.

Former Vision recipients include Oklahoma's former first lady, Kim Henry; former Oklahoma State Superintendent, Sandy Garrett; former Director of Teacher Education and Minority Teacher Recruitment Center Director with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Kyle Dahlem; former dean of OSU's College of Education, Kenneth King (deceased); and Dr. Nancy O'Donnell a career teacher. O'Donnell was the 1983 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, the first runner-up National Teacher of the Year, and the creator of OSU's Celebration of Teaching.

OKTOY also awarded the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Endowed scholarship and the Mike Adkins Memorial scholarship to two desiring pre-service teachers.   

University of Central Oklahoma


UCO Urban

University of Central Oklahoma's College of Education & Professional Studies first Urban Teacher

Preparation Academy Graduation Cohort. First row from left to right: Rebeckah Binion, Sharyce Williams, Natalie Young, Bradly Cusack. Standing from left to right: Stephanie Cammack, Jessica Martinez, Sherri Drwenski, Stacey Garcia, and JaRod Richardson. Photo compliments of UCO.  


UCO Celebrates the First Graduating Urban Teacher Preparation Academy Cohort 


UCO's College of Education and Professional Studies hosted a banquet at the close of the school year to honor the first graduating Urban Teacher Preparation Academy (UTPA) cohort, celebrating their accomplishments with family, friends, and colleagues. 


"Today is a day about celebrating dreams. It is about celebrating the children of Oklahoma City. It is about celebrating the teaching profession. It is about people like you, who want to help to give the children of Oklahoma City a better life," Dr. James Machell, UCO's Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies said in the welcome. 


The sole purpose for creating UCO's School of Teacher Education and Professional Studies UTPA was to better equip and train pre-service teachers to push forward and promote the academic performance of those children who are schooled in high needs urban districts. 


The UTPA selected a total of nine elementary and secondary pre-service teacher candidates to partake in a year-long clinical teaching experience to help strengthen their practice. 


Elementary Education majors are Rebeckah Binion, Sherri Drwenski, JaRod Richardson, and Natalie Young. Sharyce Williams is an Early Childhood Education major. Stephanie Cammack is a Special Education major. Bradly Cusack and Jessica Martinez are English Education majors. 


To date, six of the eight UTPA graduates have been hired by Oklahoma City Public Schools for the 2011-12 school year. 


Dr. Bill Pink, UCO Associate Dean of Education and Professional Studies, told humorous, heart-felt stories about each UTPA teacher candidate - application, interviewing, clinical, mentoring, and bonding experiences. 


"I wanted each of you to know that you all will always be a part of the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy. The only way this has worked is because of the leadership in each building. Our partnerships with OKCPS administrators, mentor teachers and support staff was successful because of their willingness to work together for the betterment of all children," Pink said. 


Dr. Karl Springer, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent said, "I believe in the children of Oklahoma City Schools, and thank you UCO for believing in them as well." 



ACE and LEAP Students Learn First-Hand the Ins and Outs of Becoming a Teacher 


Dr. Susan Scott, a University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) teacher education professor, has brought scores of students from across the state to UCO's campus, acquainting them to college life and to the teaching profession.


For eight straight seasons, Scott has facilitated the Minority Educational Encouragement Project, an Oklahoma State Regents for Higher. 


This year, Scott hosted nine different groups, taking the students on a virtual university tour, navigating them through a step by step process of how to prepare for college, secure scholarships, file a FASFA, read and map out a plan of study, course selection, plus expose them to student employment opportunities. 


The students were able to share in the excitement of campus life, and at the end of the day. They received a special T-shirts reflecting the spirit of being a teacher.

Oklahoma Association of Colleges of Teacher Education 

OACTE Congratulates Outgoing Educators



Summer Lois

 Dr. Lois Lawler Brown of Oklahoma City      University congratulates outgoing OACTE President, Dr. Vicki Ferguson of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Summer Osborne

Dr. Vicki Ferguson showers Dr. Bill Osborne of East Central University with accolades for his decades of service to teacher education. Osborne retired as dean.



Teacher Connection News 

LEAP's Mentorship Program Connects Leaders with Future Leaders 


The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Leadership Education Achievement Program (LEAP), is a leadership program used in several middle and high schools across the state.


Two young men at Northwest Classen High School's LEAP Class have recently discovered their own leadership skills, and in doing so, they both have come to the realization that serving as a positive role model for younger students has been their greatest reward.


NW Classen High School's ninth graders, Carlos Lopez and Marlon DeLeon, now know that LEAP is a worthwhile class, but at the beginning, they had their doubts.  

"Honestly, I never have been a leader in anything, so learning that I could be a role model to someone made me feel good inside. I know I am a leader because my little buddy looks up to me," DeLeon said. 


LEAP teachers, Kate Haydon and Marsha Stewart, knew the value of the course, and they believed in it so much so that they persuaded their administration to establish the freshmen LEAP Academy at NW Classen - a mandated course requirement for all incoming freshmen.


One unit within the curricula is the'Little Buddy' project, which pairs a LEAP freshman with an elementary student. The high schooler serves as the mentor to the Elementary mentee. During their mentoring sessions, the two engage in various activities together reading books, eating lunch, playing on the playground; conducting science projects, coloring pictures, eventually, cultivating a friendship.


Lopez mentored a kindergartener and DeLeon mentored a first grader at Kaser Elementary School, visiting the mentees on three separate occasions during the fall semester. "At first, my little buddy was a little bit on the shy side, but as we began to talk more, we learned that we had a connection. We realized that we had more in common than we realized," Lopez said.

NW Classen

NW Classen High School students (from left to right) Marlon DeLeon and Carlos Lopez


Stewart states, "LEAP is a very productive program. The students have to practice skills, so they can feel comfortable with what they are learning. LEAP is about learning leadership skills, interacting with the community, working on academic excellence, and setting goals to go to college within the very first year that they attend NW Classen.


"This year, my students have been very high achieving. They are very smart and very capable. We have accomplished so much this year, more than I ever thought we would. At first, they were uncomfortable with the Little Buddy project; however, as time went on, they began to embrace their mentees. They started getting letters from their little Buddies, and soon they began owning it. They would make comments 'like this is my little buddy, and look how much my little buddy's writing skills have improved.' They wrote their little buddy back and asked them how they are doing in school. That's something you won't hear a teenager ever ask, and for that I am extremely proud of them," Haydon said.


Both Lopez and DeLeon are Oklahoma Promise Scholars, and they have plans to attend college after they complete high school. Lopez has aspirations to become an engineer, and DeLeon wants to be a doctor.


"By the end of the year, we became extremely close, and really we didn't want to leave our little Buddies," Lopez said.


"When you can be a part of someone's life in a positive way, then that tells me that I have made a positive influence on his life. But to tell you the truth, my little buddy helped me more than I helped him - My little buddy has been my mentor and friend," LeDeon said.  



 Westville High Explore LEAP Activities


Right brain, left brain, Little Buddy mentorship program, the Trust game, and shadow a teacher for a week are but a few of Westville students' most favorite LEAP - Leadership Education Achievement Program activities.


"Who said learning can't be fun!" said Doris Ables, Westville's LEAP teacher. "I've taught for over 20 years, and the LEAP program is the most engaging curriculum ever," she added. 


Westiville High School LEAP Class.  


Brittany Trentham and Holly Fritch, LEAP students in Ables' class, said they enjoyed shadowing a teacher for a week exercise.


"We see our teachers every day, but we very seldom get the opportunity to see them outside of the classroom," Trenthem said. "We got a chance to see how they prepare for class, and a teacher has to be very organized, plus teaching involves a lot of planning," she said.

"We got to see them in their natural environment, and they are completely different away from the classroom. They appear very relaxed; however, when they are in the classroom, they turn on the gas. Being a teacher is a lot of work," Fritch said.



TSEIP Awards $14,362 


Senate Bill 1393 created the Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program (TSEIP), a loan forgiveness program for math and science pre-service teacher candidates.


This year, each TSEIP participant received a check for $14,362.


        TSEIP graph 

To qualify for the program, a student must receive a teaching certificate in either mathematics or science from an Oklahoma accredited teacher education program and teach for at least five consecutive years in an Oklahoma public secondary school. After completing his/her teaching assignment, the TSEIP participant will be reimbursed for the cost of his/her student loans.


Since its inception in 2001 through May 2006, there have been a total of 169 recipients, who have received a total of $2,083,374 in reimbursements.


The chart above shows the program's growth over a six year period, and also provided below is a table that lists each participating higher education institution along with the number of TSEIP award recipients to date.


The reimbursement amounts are generated by a formula identified in House Bill 1499.


For more information about the TSEIP program, email Saeed Sarani at ssarani@osrhe.edu or call 405.225.9192.





East Central University


Northeastern Oklahoma State University


Northwestern Oklahoma State University


Oklahoma Baptist University


Oklahoma Christian University


Oklahoma State University


Oklahoma University


Oklahoma Wesley University


Southeastern Oklahoma State University


Southern Nazarene University


Southwestern Oklahoma State University


St. Gregory's University


University of Central Oklahoma


University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma


University of Tulsa



The reimbursement amounts are generated by a formula identified in House Bill 1499.


For more information about the TSEIP program, email Saeed Sarani at ssarani@osrhe.edu or call 405.225.9192.


Coming Attractions


To register, visit: http://www.okhighered.org/reading-conference/


                Early registration ENDS: Monday, August 22nd!!!



2011 Reading conference 

Editor's Note

The Minority Teacher Recruitment Center (MTRC), a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, will electronically publish a fall, spring, and summer editions of  the Teacher Connection newsletter, for the purpose of positively promoting, marketing, and showcasing news stories, creative features, curricular highlights, research data, and technology updates, impacting Oklahoma's Schools of Education, its faculty, students, and communities.


We welcome all comments, opinions, and/or concerns. Please forward your remarks to Deena Thomas at dthomas@osrhe.edu.


Thank you,

 Deena signature


Oklahoma Teacher Enhancement Coordinator


In This Issue
A Message From the Director of Teacher Education
Oklahoma's Secretary of Education Stresses Common Sense Accountability
Locust Grove Gates Scholarship Winners Credit Teachers, Counselor, and Hard Work for Their Success
Clara Luper Remembered as a Pioneer for Change, a Consummate Teacher
Ted Gillispie Retires at the Top of His Game
Education Expert Advocates Enhanced Teacher Preparation
Campus News: Cameron
Campus News: NSU
Campus News: NWOSU
Campus News: OKCU
Campus News: OCU
Campus News: St. Gregory's University
Campus News: OSU
Campus News: UCO
Coming Attractions
Editor's Note