TeachLINK Revised
Issue: # 4Fall 2011/Spring 2012
The Oklahoma Teacher Connection 
 A Division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
A Message From the Director



Another new year, another new semester, and for us - a new name!  We are now officially the Oklahoma Teacher Connection!  We are excited to be able to continue our services and programs that help connect the many facets of Oklahoma's education pipeline.  Please see our website at www.okhighered.org/otc , and happy 2012 to you all!



Lisa signature


Dr. Lisa Holder

Director of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma Teacher Connection

OTC News

Nationally Recognized "Compadres in Education" Program Closes the ESL Achievement Gap


   The nation's child demographics has shifted and Oklahoma is following the same trend, identifying an increasingly growing population of minority children. A Newsok.com article entitled "Census 2010: 11 Oklahoma Counties Now Have 'Majority-Minority' Child Populations" reported similar findings - children of color are on the rise and many are second language learners.

Jennifer Pasillas
Putnam City West High School
Graduation Coach/
Professional Educator


   The Oklahoman reported that in 2000, minority children made up four percent of the state's population, totaling nearly 930,000, and in contrast, the same four percent population jumped to 10 percent in just one decade, totaling 2.82 million.


   The newspaper went on to state that Hispanic children and children of two or more races account for most of the state's 18 years and under population growth in the last decade.


   English language learners (ELL) within Oklahoma's schools pose a unique set of challenges for the ELL students, their parents, and for teachers and school administrators.


   Jennifer Pasillas recognized the disparities early on as a high school student at Putnam City High School, and she decided the best way to offset the lack of support for second language learners was to become as an ESL teacher.


   After six and half years in the classroom at Putnam City West (PC West), Pasillas was offered the position as the school's ELL graduation coach. Now, Pasillas says she can focus all of her energies on assisting the students, their families, and ELL teachers and assistants. She says she works very closely with the parents to ensure the academic success of their children.


   "I serve as the counselor for the ESL students. At Putnam City West, we have about 200 ESL students. A few of those who have recently tested out of program but continue to need the assistance that our program provides. They are not considered ESL by the state's standards, but they still struggle and are reading below grade level. We do a lot of work with our parents, and service learning plays a huge role in the development of our children," Pasillas said.


   Pasillas constructed what is nationally known and recognized as the "Compadres in Education," an outreach program that supports Hispanic families and aids in closing the achievement gap. Forty percent of Putnam City West's Hispanic population is transient, and more than 70 percent come from low-income families.


   "Compadres in Education" is designed to help PC West's ESL students graduate from high school, prepare them to enter and graduate from college to later become successful in the workforce. "I create a plan for our students. If it is a brand new student to the country, and they speak no English, then they are on a five year plan. The reason being is that they need a year to adjust, and they don't take a lot core courses. We have seven teachers and two ESL assistants who voluntarily sign up to teach the sheltered core classes," Pasillas said.


   Before entering the classroom, the instructors undergo a Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Training (SIOP) to help them to successfully facilitate the eight components of SIOP, which include preparation, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice/application, lesson delivery, and review and assessment.


   Since the Compadres in Education program's inception in 2007, the Hispanic students' graduation rate has increased by nearly 70 percent. The Academic Performance Index for Hispanic students has risen by nearly 30 percent, from 893 to 1,151 (on a 1,500 point scale).


   From 2010 to 2011, the end-of-instruction (EOI) pass rates among the Hispanic students enjoyed an overwhelming increase in several core subjects. Scores improved from 63 to 72 percent in Algebra; from 82 to 95 percent in Algebra II; from 53 to 71 percent in Biology I; and 84 to 96 percent in English III.


   The National Education Association (NEA) and the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) partnered with PC West by awarding a grant to launch the Noche de Padres Hispanos (Hispanic Family Night). It was formed to educate and aid families with topics of legal rights of immigrants, challenges of raising teens, and tips and information on how to successful ly complete high school and college. The program gained an increase in participation from 50 or more parents to 250 who attend.


   Assistant principal, Melanie Pealor, strongly supports Pasilla's work. Pealor, said,  "Parent outreach is key, and that's has been the Hispanic community's conversation. For those parents who didn't feel comfortable coming to school, we asked them what would make them feel more comfortable. And of course, language is the biggest barrier. We make every effort to serve the needs of all our populations, because we're very diverse here.  We are always looking for ways to educate our parents, and provide professional development for our teachers. In fact, we have a Hispanic secretary and police officer on staff. Our staff makes me look pretty, and by the way, Jennifer Pasillas isn't going anywhere."


   Pasillas added, "As a student, I saw that there was nothing in place to serve our children, and now, I am so thankful that I can give back."   


Hundreds Gather to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. Ernest L. Holloway


Dr. Ernest L. Holloway, Langston University's 14th President, served longer than any other Chief Executive in the institution's history, and he never forgot his humble beginnings. He was the son of a sharecropper from the all-black township of Boley, Oklahoma, who began his educational career as a science teacher. He served as president of his alma mater, Langston University, for 25 years with the sole objective of making LU's students his first priority - his gift to the institution. On Christmas Eve, Ernest L. Holloway died at age 81.



Holloway Story
International and state flags served as a backdrop for the funeral services of Langston University's 14th President. On December 30, 2011, Governor Mary Fallin issued a proclamation that all state agency flags were to be flown half staff rom sunrise to sunset, honoring Dr. Ernest L. Holloway. 
Photo by Roy Thurston - compliments of Thurston Photo Co.


   Dr. Holloway was remembered by many. Glen Johnson, Chancellor for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education said, "We have come by here today to say goodbye to a person who was clearly a great leader in our state, a great educator. We come to honor his life. Langston University has lost a larger than life role model, a visionary leader, a very strong and effective educator, and a president who clearly always put students first."


   Angela Kelso-Watson was a student and a single mother at Langston University in 1980. At the time, she was faced with the responsibility of caring for a child while attempting to pursue a post secondary degree; she said she is merely an example of Holloway's willingness to help someone in need. Watson stated that when she was a student, she decided to sit outside of Holloway's door, hoping that she would get a chance to ask him if he would give her the opportunity to work on campus.


   Watson stated, "Dr. Holloway was widely known for helping people and giving people opportunities. Starting a family at an early age presented me with a set of challenges. However, Dr. Holloway gave me the opportunity to work full time and attend college on a part time basis, and as a result, I was able to overcome. Now, I serve as Oklahoma's very first female Vice President for Fiscal and Administrative Affairs in Higher Education."


   Upon assuming the position of president, Holloway faced and managed to overcome the challenges of institution closure, the threat of transforming the university into a prison, financial instability, low enrollment, and the lack of student and faculty morale.


   Watson stated, "President Holloway's clear vision and persistence provided all the needs of our students, resulting in over $105 million in capital improvements, grant funding increased by $50 million, ranking Langston University as the third highest grant recipient in the state. Under Holloway's leadership, the institution implemented the internationally renowned E. (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research and the Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. In addition, LU students now have access to study abroad and the goat research programs in Mexico, Ethiopia, Egypt, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Kenya, Iraq, and China. And the Dr. Ernest L. Holloway Highway 33 paved the way for safe passage for LU students, their families, Langston residents, and other motorists."


   During his 40 year tenure, Holloway held the positions of Assistant Professor of Biology and Education, Assistant Registrar, Registrar, Dean of Student Affairs, Vice President for Administration, Acting President, and Interim President before assuming the presidency.


   Bernice Dorsey, Holloway's sister said, "My brother has always been a leader, and our family couldn't be prouder of his accomplishments. He has always been the overseer of our family."   All four of Holloway's siblings are LU graduates. Dorsey added. "He never forgot where he came from, and if a student was willing to work hard to obtain an education, he saw to it that you got whatever you needed."


   The Chancellor told the audience of 600 that Holloway had also served as the Chair for the 25 member of Council of College and Universities Presidents. "They entrusted him to serve as their spokesperson for the State Regents, the legislature, and the governor," he added. "I know that all of us here would agree that Holloway did not make a 25 year commitment to Langston, but indeed it was a lifetime commitment," Johnson said.


   Over the life of Holloway's professional career, he was recognized and honored with many awards, and was a celebrated inductee into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Afro-American Hall of Fame.


   "Dr. Holloway was a hands-on administrator, who understood the crucial role historically black colleges and universities played in providing that pathway and that opportunity for achievement for their students. Dr. Holloway played a key role in making the history of Oklahoma. I am proud that we both are from Okfuskee County. He is from Boley, and I'm from Okemah. He was my friend, and his dream will live on," Johnson concluded.


   "We truly lost a great man, an undisputed 'drum major' for Langston University," Beverly Smith, a third generation LU alumnus and LU's Assistant Vice President of Administrative Affairs and Human Resources Director, said. "He was an impeccable administrator, a great leader, supervisor, boss, and a wealth of knowledge, a confidant, a mentor, a teacher, and a friend." 

      Efforts to Restore National Board Certification Funding in the Works


   The $5000 annual bonus for Oklahoma's National Board Certified Teachers' (NBCT) may have been an unfortunate budget cut causality in 2011, but the commitment and support for the NBCT process remains a priority among many Oklahoma teachers and several legislators, according to Heather Sparks, 2009 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, NBCT. 


The apples on the map  identify the location of each NBCT teacher.


   "Our goal as a group is to reinstate the program. We want to make sure that every teacher who's interested in the NBCT process is given the opportunity to become an NBCT," Sparks added.


   One measure to reinstate NBCT funding is now in the works. State Representative, Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, has authored and introduced HB 2186, a bill that earmarks revenue to fund NBCT stipends. 


   "I am in total support of our National Board Certified Teachers, and in fact, HB 2186 has been introduced for the 2012 session. The bill will make the funding for NBCT mandatory," Brown added.


   If HB 2186 is passed, the law would serve as a permanent funding source to pay the annual bonuses for all eligible and qualifying teachers possessing National Board Certification, which will be made possible by the Education Leadership Oklahoma program - a program created through the Education Leadership Oklahoma Act.


   "Teachers don't do it for the money. It's like completing a master's degree, and research supports that the process enhances the practice and ultimately improves student learning," Sparks said.


   Oklahoma's NBCT numbers are growing. In December, the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP) announced that 174 newly certified NBCTs have been added, increasing Oklahoma's total to 2994, ranking the state tenth in the nation, according Jennifer Gambrell, OCTP's Director of Educator Development/Education Leadership Oklahoma. However, without NBCT scholarship funding, Gambrell believes the number of new NBCTs will decrease, drastically lowering Oklahoma's rank.


   There is an increasing momentum of legislative support to reinstate NBCT funding. State Representatives Ed Cannaday (D) and Danny Morgan (D) are strongly in favor of bringing back NBCT funding.


   State Representative Cannaday, a long time advocate for NBCT, said, "As a State Representative serving on the Common Education Committee, I have seen numerous approaches at creating incentive pay for teachers that excel in their training and work. None of these have come close to the National Board Certification program. To become certified, the teacher must extend an enormous amount of effort in assessing 'best practices' and developing strategies to implement those strategies," he said.


   Another proponent of the NBCT process is State Representative Morgan. Morgan says he is extremely disappointed that the funding was discontinued; however, he said he looks forward to working with other legislators in restoring the funding to this important training curriculum.



   "Oklahoma's National Board Certified Teacher program provides an excellent opportunity for our classroom teachers to develop their talents and skills. The program is very strenuous and difficult, and a teacher must be very dedicated to complete the process. These educators go above and beyond in order to be the best teacher possible," Morgan said.  



   With the 2012 legislative session just around the corner, both Sparks and Gambrell expressed their optimism for the return NBCT funding. Sparks added, "We believe in the NBCT process, for it's a proven, effective practice, and we will continue to stand up and push for its reinstatement. And we are grateful to those who support the NBCT program as well."  

The Fourth Annual Reading Conference Served Up a Smorgasbord 


   "Come for a MEAL - Motivate, Energize, Activate, Learning" was the theme for the fourth annual reading conference, resembled a traditional Thanksgiving feast, serving up a menu of comprehension strategies, graphic novels, and cultural competencies.                                                                    


Doug Buehl, Reading Conference keynote speaker.

   Seated at the head of the table was Doug Buehl, the keynote speaker and the main course for the event. Dr. Gretchen Schwarz, the dessert, sweetened the MEAL by sharing the various usages of digital tools in conjunction with graphic novels, broadening the scope of literacy. And closing out the event was Patrick Cudjoe, the after dinner mint, who gave a smooth engaging, candid account of what it takes to reach and teach diverse populations.


   Buehl, nationally known for his scaffolding techniques and a celebrated author of several reading text books, told his audience that the challenges which make text difficult for students include unfamiliar vocabulary, lack of knowledge of the topic, the reader having to work to understand the text, low interest and motivation, and the sophisticated language structures.


   "When a teacher is in the process of teaching a disciplinary text, he or she must create a temporary structure to get the reader to think," Buehl said.


  To overcome these challenges, Buehl recommended the gradual release of responsibility. He explained that gradual release is achieved through teacher and student regulated techniques paired with supported practice - a technique he calls scaffolding.


   "Gradual release is I do; you watch. I do; you help. You do; I help. You do; I watch. A temporary structure is put in place around a text to scaffold learning. It is a nice way of looking at how you can bundle together what a learner can comprehend," Buehl said.


   "All content core subjects can be scaffold," he added. "The conceptualized act is a temporary structure created and placed around a text to help the reader become comfortable learning what the student is required to learn," he said. Buehl went on to say that once the temporary structure has been utilized, the learner is able to access and apply Bloom's Taxonomy skills as well.


   Dr. Gretchen Schwartz shared her belief that technology tools are reshaping how students learn and interact with literacy. She said,"Dr. Renee Hobbs, the nation's leading authority in digital literacy, defines media or digital literacy's five uses, which include text, tools, technology access to information and to entertainment." The message of comprehension is creativity.


   As a curriculum and instruction professor at Baylor University, Schwartz says she uses graphic novels to enhance student learning experiences. "Every media has things that it does well. I think that depends on what and how we use technology that determines how we come by understanding the text. Using the various digital tools truly does help convey a meaning," she said.


   Schwartz showed a video of a National Public Radio (NPR) reporter discussing complex issues. The NPR reporter, an animated cartoon, illustrated how a complex text is delivered in a comical manner. Conference participants' feedback picked up on the various aspects of the cartoon how its authoritative disposition, voice inflections, appearance, dramatic body language, and background music among other things were all demonstrated and conveyed through media.


   "Fonts, graphics as well as other tools help explain an idea. Media literacy clearly belongs in all of the disciplines," Schwartz said.


   Patrick Cudjoe began his segment with a powerful statement."What literacy means to an urban student does not have the same meaning for you are I," Cudjoe said. We need to have a conversation about diversity in today's classroom. Let me share something with you that will reshape your thinking."


   Cudjoe, a 29 year veteran teacher, who teaches for Oklahoma City Public Schools, says culture plays a crucial role in how students view literature.


   Cudjoe asked the conference participants to define the term Soliloquy - which means a speech to oneself, contemplating a dilemma. He also asked his students to define the term Soliloquy as well in an attempt to help them gain a better understanding about Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. In the middle of what Cudjoe described as one his "stellar lesson plans," a student interrupted and shouted that she thought the term Soliloquy was a good name for a baby. The conference audience roared with laughter.


   "At that point, I could have become irate and begun writing referrals, but instead I started thinking. Let me see how I can capitalize off of this opportunity.We have to meet them where they are. Students need to see themselves in the literature; otherwise, they cannot relate," he said.


   Cudjoe said urban kids, not just black kids, but all students of color need to see themselves in the stories they read; otherwise, there is a disconnect in the learning process. Even though his lesson plans did not always unfold in the manner in which he had planned, he said he was able to make the literature relevant to their lives, their culture. As a result, his students scored well on the end of instruction exams, stating making the connection made the difference.


   "Our plans shouldn't be relevant to what we want, but instead our plans should be relevant to what they want. Universities all over the country are making commitments to diverse communities. If children of color aren't in your classroom now, then they will be soon. You can't teach a kid unless you can reach a kid," Cudjoe concluded.  

Making Character First While Speaking the Same Character Language Transforms Lives


   The books Making Character First, authored by Tom Hill, founder and President of Character First! and the Character Training Institute, Inc., and Speaking Character - The Mission, authored by Dr. Earlene Smith, president of the Oklahoma Center for Character Education, constructed the framework for the second annual Summer Institute for Character Education which was held this past July.


  According to Dr. Earlene Smith, the primary objective of both books and the conference was to encourage the use of Character Education, and to allow its teachings to permeate every facet of the students' life, starting in the classroom.

Since 2005, Smith's dream was to offer Character Education training to Oklahoma's pre-service teachers, and last year, the first Summer Character Institute was launched with the Class of MMX.


  "When the State Regents identified 2500 teacher education graduates, I knew then that we must somehow create a pathway, where these teachers could be trained in Character Education and take this knowledge into Oklahoma's classrooms," Smith said.


  Smith approached Dr. Lisa Holder, the Director of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma Teacher Connection at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in the fall of 2008. Together, they collaborated with Character First!, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Community College, and the Christian Heritage Academy to jump start the initiative.


  This year, the second group of teacher candidates, 40 to be exact, came from 20 of the state's schools of education to attend the professional development conference. These hand-picked future teachers made up of juniors and seniors participated in two and a half days of training within the Summer Institute for Character Education - Class of MMXI.  


2011 Summer Institute Students
SWOSU seniors, Kadie Davis (left) and Brittany Fite (far right) and Kelley Fleming, University of Tulsa (center) were Summer Institute Class MMXI participants.  Photo by Robert Greenlaw - Compliments of Character First!


   Elementary Education senior, Kadie Davis from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, said, "This conference was a boost of motivation for when I potentially become a teacher. I can use my training in the classroom or in a corporate setting."


  Brittany Fite, a senior at Southwestern Oklahoma State University added, "The Character Institute has given me some encouragement. I am the children's director at my church, and I think it would be neat to teach them how to be a better person."


   Each conference participant received a personalized sign-autographed copy of Hill and Smith's books. In addition, the educators utilized the Character First! curricula during the sessions, plus they received access to Character First's online library free of charge for one year.  


   Smith said her book identifies a language of character. In addition, she insists that if all three socioeconomic cultures - the poor, the middle class, and the rich spoke the Character Education language, then the three class groups would be able to understand and communicate with each other. She also contends that all three classes could share the same focus.


  "Speaking Character is a new language designed for our diverse cultures of poverty, middle class, and wealth as a beginning to break the barriers of misunderstandings by speaking the same words with like meanings," Smith said.


   Tom Hill, who was also a speaker for the event, is chairman of the Board of Kimray Inc. Kimray Inc. is an Oklahoma based oil and gas production equipment manufacturing company with 720 employees. As a business owner, Hill explained that when the company tried to enforce more rules upon its employees, the company saw an increase in inappropriate employee behavior. Finally, he said, he threw out some, if not all, of the rules and began putting in place measures to improve the character of Kimray's employees.


  "The rules didn't change the behavior of the employees. As a team, we transformed the character of the person by actively modeling, encouraging, praising, and recognizing people for good character," Hill said. "My book provides practical guidelines and methods, plus it tells my personal story and provides other testimonials that prove that building character changes lives," he said.


   Tom Hill founded Character First in 1992. Its mission is to help build and develop leadership skills, while fortifying the character of those within companies, government, schools, and families.


   The pre-service teachers engaged a number of interactive breakout sessions that included practical strategies, character curricula, and hands-on guided practice designed to instruct the future teachers on how to teach character.   The sessions included the power of Praise, Teaching and Integrating Character, Flexibility, Bridging Cultural Differences, and Classroom Management.


  "What I've gotten from the conference is confidence! I am now familiar with using the terminology of character education, and I am also learning how to incorporate it into my lesson plans, so that I can use it when I am a teacher," Kelley Fleming said.


   Fleming, a senior from the University of Tulsa, stated that she plans to determine and select what character traits she will teach her students based on their needs. "Not only am I thinking about teaching character to my students, but I am also going to work on using it for myself," she said.


   There are many challenges facing today's classroom teachers, and professional development training is key to offsetting the disparities, demands, and mandates affecting K-12 learners. Sherry Alexander, a certified Aha! Trainer, shared a bit of pre and post advice with the Class MMXI during her presentation entitled Understanding Cultural Differences: Poverty, Middle Class, and Wealth.


   Alexander said in closing, "I have nine weeks to change the minds and the hearts and the dreams and the goals and the future of some of the lives I touch in my classroom. You and I have the same job." 

East Central University

East Central University Hosts Kaleidoscope Conference


   Oklahoma Public school students from New Lima and Varnum joined with East Central University teacher candidates in the annual ECU Kaleidoscope conference. The conference theme this year was "Writer's Workshop."

Kaledoscope 2011
Oklahoma students demonstrate their role playing skills.


   Each group of teacher candidates provided opportunities for public school students to explore ideas and practice their writing skills, while they focused on one aspect of the writing process. 


   Oklahoma public school students wrote obituaries for historical figures, which proved to be one of the most popular writing stations. ECU teacher candidates were able to plan and teach activities, and the public school students were able to practice writing, as well as visit ECU's campus. 


   Dr. Marty Pennington, the founder of the annual conference, stated everyone involved gained a great experience.


Oklahoma Christian University

            Oklahoma Christian University Launches Reading Clinic


   The School of Education at Oklahoma Christian University launched an after-school Reading Clinic in September 2011.  Senior level education majors taking the course, Strategies for Reading Assessment, are tutoring Edmond Public School elementary students who have been identified as struggling readers. Mrs. Rhonda Morris is the instructor and facilitator.



Oklahoma Christian Senior, Haley Efird, tutors Blake Hammer as a part of the newly launched Reading Lab in OC's School of Education.


Oklahoma City University

Connecting Across Cultures Conference Blends Diverse Populations


   Racial and ethnic diversity has grown dramatically in the United States in the last three decades, yet the majority of teachers are white. There are challenges and opportunities inherent in this mismatch, and addressing issues related to ethnicity and culture is crucial for all our teacher candidates. In addition, there is a teacher shortage in urban schools, the turnover is high, and first year teachers report they need additional strategies to assist the wide range of their students in reaching their full potential.


Connecting Cultures
Dr. Martha Lue Stewart

    A grant from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education has made it possible for Oklahoma City University to sponsor a conference titled Connecting Across Cultures on February 10, 2012. This conference will focus on helping teacher candidates explore strategies for working effectively and respectfully with students from different cultures. The conference includes a presentation by Dr. Martha Lue Stewart from the University of Central Florida, who was awarded the Multicultural Educator of the Year Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME).


   The Connecting Across Cultures conference seeks to inform teacher candidates about specific strategies to increase the effectiveness of their work with diverse students and to inspire teacher candidates to positively view working with diverse student populations.


  Packets that include a nomination form for five teacher candidates, one alternate, and one faculty member have been delivered to each of the twenty two teacher education programs in our state.  


  For further information, please contact Dr. Lisa Lawter (405-208-5669; llawter@okcu.edu) or Dr. Liz Willner (405-208-5935; ewillner@okcu.edu).



Oklahoma Panhandle State University
OPSU Participates in National Day of Service
OPSU Service Day
    Jana Peterson (left), OPSU instructo, and OPSU student, Connie Butler, pulled this tree out of the
    ground all by themselves! Photo by Kelly Darnell
By Laura Hays 

   September 11, 2009, marked the first official National Day of Service and Remembrance to commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Oklahoma Panhandle State University, in conjunction with the Town of Goodwell, developed a local project to participate in this national mission. 


   OPSU students, faculty, town employees and community members met at Goodwell Cemetery to perform routine clean-up and yard work, remove trees that have died because of the drought, and install six flag posts along the fence line that will fly American flags on national holidays and for special events. Approximately 40 people showed up to work and got busy with the projects.   


Congrats NREA Rural Teacher of the Year  




   Kristi Ramon, a teacher from Gus Birdwell Elementary School in Spearman, Texas, and an OPSU graduate was named Rural Teacher of the Year by the National Rural Education Association, based at Purdue University. The first grade, reading recovery, and reading interventionist teacher was given kudos by her superintendent for her positive attitude.    

   The Rural Teacher of the Year Award Honoree received a $2,000 honorarium, and the school district receives $1,000 to purchase instructional materials and supplies.       




    "While others might say it can't be done, Kristi is willing to do everything possible to make it work," he said.      


   "Kristi has a passion for learning both for her and others," Principal P.J. Hanna said.    


  Ramon is an active member of her church and community, and her dedication goes beyond the classroom.     


OPSU Reinstates Music Education Programs   


   Several years ago, Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) placed its Music Education option and the Bachelor of Music degree on hold; however, this past fall, the college brought back this option that will allow students the opportunity to become Oklahoma certified teachers in grades K-12 as both vocal and instrumental instructors. This program provides training for both a chorus teacher and a band teacher.


   In addition to the music education program, OPSU continues to offer programs leading toward Oklahoma (and other states) teacher certification in Elementary Education, Agriculture Education, Math Education, Business Education and Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER-coaching). There is also interest in bringing back the English education program which will prepare teachers of English for junior high and senior high schools.


   OPSU had 13 student teachers in classrooms this past fall with another 13 ready to do their student teaching this spring. The institution currently has over 60 students in its Teacher Education Program: seven seeking certification in Agriculture Education, three in math, one in business education, eight in HPER, and over 40 seeking elementary education degrees.


   The introductory courses (courses taken by those showing an interest in teaching-prior to being admitted to the program) are also consistently full with students seeking certification in all areas of teaching-with many new students seeking HPER degrees.


   All teacher education programs must meet both state and/or national standards before a university is allowed to recommend graduates for certification. All programs at OPSU are recognized as top quality programs by either the state or the Specialized


  Program Associations (SPAs), meaning graduates of OPSU's Teacher Education Program are highly trained, with over 75 hours of pre-service observations and other experiences before the student teaching semester (a full semester) and are able to enter the classrooms as highly qualified beginning teachers.


  Schools in the OPSU service area (150 mile radius from Goodwell) continue to contact the School of Education with requests for teachers to fill open positions each year. These school administrators consistently report that the graduates from OPSU programs are doing excellent jobs and are well prepared to take their places in the public school classrooms.     



   Project volunteers included OPSU's Student Oklahoma Education Association and Student Senate, the Town of Goodwell community members, and the Boy Scouts of America Troop 142 and Cub Scout Pack completed 142 improvements.  


University of Science and Arts in Oklahoma


USAO Conducts Task Force to Formulate Clinical Preparation of Teachers


   For more than a year, the teacher education unit at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) planned to convene a Task Force to create the clinical preparation of tomorrow's teachers. This past summer, the Task Force gathered, as well as electronically to generate useful, imaginative ideas regarding the preparation of the "ideal first-year teacher."


   More than 30 contributors from seven different perspectives came together to brainstorm and determine what important experiences that mold effective teachers. Urban, suburban, and rural areas were represented and one Missouri participant was present. Other participants included parents, community leaders, school administrators, teachers, teacher candidates, and teacher educators.


   Both heterogeneous and homogeneous groups discussed the characteristics of an ideal first year teacher what experiences could precede this ideal teacher's "first day," ways to make it happen; and obstacles/constraints to the vision. The group became a "think tank" generating, organizing, and reviewing practical, impractical, and innovative possibilities.


   The group also engaged in virtual problem solving software. This virtual process tabulated individual voting and comments that covered 27 ideas generated from the sessions. The professor who developed the technology software project was a parent. His software had been adopted and used in other venues to assist with the 'think tank' activities.


   Dr. Vicki Ferguson, Director of Teacher Education, and Dr. Nancy Hector, Coordinator of Field-Based Experiences, initiated the project, and the results from each session determined the direction of the session that followed.


   " Keeping up with the fast-paced progression was enjoyable, challenging, and not without surprises.   The generation of ideas was exciting and thought provoking. The collaborative effort has already initialized a stronger partnership relationship with many schools," Ferguson said. 


   The final tabulations and recommendations of the Task Force will be submitted and reviewed at USAO's Teacher Education Committee Fall Workday. The recommended modification and strategies will be ongoing. 

Student Professional Oklahoma Educators (SPOE)
Student Professional Oklahoma Educator Hosts Professional Development Conference


   In October, the Student Professional Oklahoma Educators (SPOE) hosted a state-wide professional development conference at Oklahoma Baptist University. The event was open to education students at all levels, and the topics included legal issues/responsibilities and social media, classroom management, professionalism, resume writing and interviewing (including mock interviews).


Pre-service teachers display T-Shirt.

    Participant evaluation comments stated that the conference was extremely applicable and useful for students, and many thought majors from any subject would have benefitted from the conference.


    All reviews were positive, and many students requested that SPOE to host a similar event in the spring. All education students, especially student teachers were encouraged to attend. 


   SPOE is affiliated with Professional Oklahoma Educators (POE), a non-union, nonpartisan professional association for all school personnel. To learn more, visit www.ProfessionalOklahomaEducators.org.








Editor's Note



   The Oklahoma Teacher Connection, a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, will electronically publish the TeachLINK E-newsle

Deena pic
Deena Thomas

tter three times a year. The purpose of the E-Newsletter is to promote, market, and showcase news stories, creative features, curricular highlights, research data, and technological updates, which impact Oklahoma's Colleges of Teacher Education, common education, higher education 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

Deena V. Thomas 

Oklahoma Teacher Enhancement Coordinator

The Oklahoma Teacher Connection

In This Issue
A Message From the Director
Nationally Recognized "Compadres in Education" Program Closes the ESL Achievement Gap
Hundreds Gather to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. Ernest L. Holloway
Efforts to Restore National Board Certification Funding
The Fourth Annual Reading Conference Served Up a Smorgasbord
Making Character First While Speaking the Same Character Language
Campus News: ECU
Campus News: OC
Campus News: OCU
Campus News: OPSU
Campus News: USAO
Editor's Note