TeachLINK Revised
Issue: # 5
Summer 2012
The Oklahoma Teacher Connection 
 A Division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
A Message From the Director:
Happy Summer!

Another academic year has passed, with much happening in the world of education.  As I mentioned in the last edition, many changes in our state's education system have taken place or are still in progress. To this end, we will be facing many 'unknowns' in the near future.  My hope is that we can turn any challenges into opportunities to move forward.

I'd like to thank all of you for continuing the sometimes difficult work you do to ensure Oklahoma's children are provided with the best education possible.

Keep up the good fight, and have a wonderful summer!

Lisa signature


Dr. Lisa Holder

Director of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma Teacher Connection

OTC News

Dr. Houston Davis's Parting Views on the Future of Education in Oklahoma and Nationwide


A Message from the Editor:


After having served as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the past five years, Dr. Houston Davis has assumed the position of the University System of Georgia's new Chief Academic Officer and Executive Vice Chancellor, leaving a huge void at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.


Before his departure, I sat down to talk with Houston to gather his views on the future of education in Oklahoma and in the nation. 


As OSRHE's Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Houston Davis provided leadership for Pre-Collegiate Programs, College Programs, and Student Services, guiding the academic preparation, policy, and analysis for Oklahoma, the region, and the nation.


In addition, the former Vice-Chancellor played a pivotal role in supporting key advisory groups, representing the Chancellor within the legislative network, as well as coordinating and

Houston Davis
Dr. Houston Davis, OSRHE's former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

directing a variety of academic committees, task work studies, and the system-wide planning efforts.


While working in this capacity, Davis talked about the top takeaways he gained from his post, as well as the most valuable lessons he learned during his tenure.


Top Takeaways


Houston said his top takeaways were three-fold. To begin, he said he had been fortunate enough to have worked for and within a system that is constitutionally solid. Secondly, he stated that the State Regents organization is nationally recognized for its professionalism. And finally, he stated that OSRHE is a system that carries out its day to day operations in unison with campuses statewide - "positive relationships make things happen."


"We have one of the strongest boards, one of the strongest systems staff because of our constitutional authority. I know what a healthy system looks like. There is a nice healthy tension between the expectations in our legislative realm, and our abilities to our constitutional authority to think long term, and put in place programs that can last for a decade or more. And finally, I love the relationships we have with our campuses. I don't take for granted the great dialogue, great communication, and working relationships with the presidents, with the academic officers, and with the deans, and faculty," Davis said.


Critical Issues Impeding the Future of Higher Education


Without hesitation, Davis stated the single most critical issue facing higher education is establishing priorities. The recession has had a debilitating effect on higher education in Oklahoma and on the rest of the country. Davis stressed that institutions must identify where the real priorities are.


He contends that the resources for higher education will probably never return to the pre-2008 recession state. And as result, the condition of the economy has altered how institutions determine what programs are valuable.


This nation is at a big pivot point, he commented, and in order to keep making progress, institutions must prioritize.


"There is no way higher education can be all things to all constituency groups. It cannot happen. I don't know if it ever happened, or maybe that's a myth but it can't happen. It is a tough program by program deconstruction. We have to decide what we are going to do. And no matter what, we have to decide what we are going to continue, because that's a priority. We have to find a way to run our programs smarter, more efficiently, or in a different way than we have ever done prior. We are facing some really, really tough challenges, and I think institutions will have to have good conversations about those dynamics and establish those priorities," Davis said.


Challenges Hindering Equal Access for Underserved Populations


OSRHE has made available a number of programs and initiatives that facilitate higher education access points with the goal of closing the achievement gap among Oklahoma's underserved populations.


Gear Up, Oklahoma's Promise, Reach Higher, and the Oklahoma College Assistance Program all help prospective students learn the ins and outs of preparing, financing, and managing the obtainment of a post-secondary degree.


However, looming budget restraints threaten the availability of these types of program, clogging up the pipeline of accessibility. Davis says that resources are key in maintaining programs, "Our Regents are very committed to equal access. We are not a system that is going to back away to providing opportunities like Oklahoma's Promise. We have key initiatives that are geared toward how we can bring transformational value of higher education to individuals, to families to change a generation. The real issues become how all of our institutions can continue to be access driven."


He went on to say that there is national debate about how many folks are graduating as opposed to how many people are enrolling.


"To me, it is not about how you improve your graduation rates as it is how many folks are going across the stage. We have to continue to use our resources to provide those key access points, and we can do it in a smarter, better way."


Higher Education and Teacher Education Reform


The target issues fueling the debate about higher education reform involve performance funding, equal access, bridging the divide, and remediation. However, the most alarming concerns surfacing according to Davis are access and remediation.


"I think there is a great deal of reform that will affect something as simple as the assumptions that we make about the remedial and developmental realm. We are about 25 years in the one size fits all model in the treatment and delivery of the programs that students have access to overcome their deficiencies," Davis said.


He went on to say that the trend to remediate will move forward on what institutions are trying to remediate for, and he questions if institutions should be making the assumption that all students should have to have the same math, reading, and writing skills.


"We need to consider what are the deficiencies relative to the area of study, and do we need to bridge that as opposed to putting the students through an entire battery of assessments, placements, and treatments that may or may not apply," Davis added.


Davis pointed out that what is relative and effective appears to be the major focus of teacher education reform as well. Teacher preparation and evaluation, cultural sensitivity, pedagogical methods, clinical practice, and Common Core assessments are currently being examined in the name of Common Education reform.


Davis said, "Our colleges of education have to be at the table and be a part of developing our strategies for meeting those challenges. A decade ago, I don't think our deans of education or our faculty wasn't necessarily front and center. Ten years ago, I don't believe educators' minds were fixed to talk about curriculum standards and assessments. The bad news is teacher education is now at the table, and there is a microscope examining these issues that can certainly be a little threatening. However, I think a lot of good is coming from being a part of the solution."


Elements Impacting the Degree Completion Process


The overall message and mission of OSRHE is making sure its constituency is given an opportunity to earn a post-secondary degree. 


The interworking elements that push forward the degree completion process involve governance, economic development, accountability issues, policy, and research.

Davis addressed what he believes propels the degree completion process, starting with the end in mind, stating that governance was the least impactful element.


"I am going to put governance at the very least of the most impactful components. All 50 states have their own governance models. Some states do a much better job of arranging completion agendas and some don't," he said.


He tagged accountability and economic development as the two most prominent elements driving degree completion.


"Accountability is a driver. Going back to 1983-84 moving forward, higher education has been moving toward accountability for performance funding," Davis said. "Economic development is the leading driver, especially after the recession," he added.


"More and more people are seeing the reality, and for most students, a higher education is important. I am talking about lower middle class trying to move to the middle class to have a sustainable career. You are seeing more business and industry seeing the importance of developing human capitol," he said.


Davis shared that research and policy go hand in hand, stating that these two components zero in on the pressure points within the educational pipeline, identifying the leakages.


Davis said, "We have a large number of students who are getting through their freshman and sophomore years, and they are in good academic standing, but at some point, they are dropping out. Let's not get started pointing fingers; instead let's be proactive, and roll up our sleeves and do something about it. We have to do something for those folks with some hours and no degree. They have invested in themselves heavily, and the state has invested in them as well. The adult degree completion issue is a critical pipeline issue."


Valuable OSRHE Lessons Learned


Davis said he learned two valuable lessons during his stay at OSRHE. He labeled the lessons A and B, and he said he plans to take both lessons with him to his new position in Georgia.


Lesson A consists of recreating the model of the various Councils at his new post, and lesson B involves Davis attempting to reduplicate the professional, pleasant work culture at the Regents.

"I came here and took part in the Council of Instruction, our Council of Student Affairs, the Presidents' Council, and then the deans of education (OACTE) in their regular meetings. I have been energized by not feeling like I am in this on my own. We have groups that are not ceremonial in nature. They are very much coming to the table and are willing to work with us on the issues of the day," Davis said.


Lesson B - OSRHE's work environment is one that Davis says is hard to come by in today's society - a culture he hopes to replicate.


"Knock on wood. I have never worked with as many folks on day to day basis, who work together so well - ever! Sure we have our issues. We are people. But everybody gets along. We have a fantastic staff across the division, and I hope to cultivate the OSRHE working environment when I get to Georgia," Davis said.


Davis had one phrase that summed up his experience at OSRHE.


"Wow," he said, "Personally and professionally satisfying!"  

          New Executive Director Hopes OCTP's Initiatives Continue

Shortly after Linda Reid took the reins of the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP) in June 2011 as its newly elected Executive Director following the retirement of her predecessor, Ted Gillispie, she was faced with a new set of challenges and opportunities.

Linda Reid

Linda Reid, OCTP

Executive Director

Reid explained that at the onset of her new position, the agency's primary mission and first priorities were teacher preparation and professional development. However, due the passage of new legislation, SB 1797, OCTP has been merged and consolidated with the Office of Accountability, establishing the Commission for Education, Instruction Quality and Accountability.



SB 1797 authored by Senator Clark Jolley and Representative Lee Denney combined the two agencies and was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallen on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.




In light of the merger, Reid is hopeful that the new agency will incorporate the initiatives needed to push teacher preparation forward. She said it is important to refocus, reorganize, and recreate the four new initiatives, which she believes will fortify teacher education. These measures include the following:

  1.        The Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) Consortium
  2.        The Alliance for Clinically-Based Teacher Preparation
  3.        The Adoption of the Revised InTASC Standards
  4.        The OCTP Independent Survey of First Year Teachers 

 "Regardless of how the merger unfolds, my hope is that the work doesn't stop," Reid said. "We want the initiatives to move forward."

 Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) Consortium


Reid stated that OCTP is piloting TPA at seven universities this spring. Participating schools include the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma, East Central University, Oral Roberts University, Southern Nazarene University, and Tulsa University. Currently, 24 other states are also piloting the assessment tool as well. 


Developed by Stanford University, TPA is a subject-specific, performance-based assessment for teacher candidates, centered on student achievement.   TPA is designed to utilize assessment data to improve teacher preparation, plus it facilitates and targets professional development for teachers and informs teacher practice. If adopted, TPA could replace the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam (OPTE). 


 Alliance for Clinically-Based Teacher Preparation  


The Alliance for Clinically-Based Teacher Preparation is a national teacher preparation model that requires the development of deep partnerships with P12 schools. Currently, 11 states, including Oklahoma, participate in the program.


"The Clinically-Based Alliance takes the teacher preparation program and moves it off and out of the colleges of education and places it into the K-12 setting. It is more like flipping the model. As it is now, if a student declares teacher education as his or her major, you would take all of your classes on the college campus, and there is not as much clinical practice in K-12 classrooms. However, the Alliance for Clinically-Based Teacher Preparation reverses that process. Students take their classes at K-12 schools and go to their college campus to reflect upon their practice," Reid said.


 Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) 


OCTP's third initiative is the adoption of the revised InTASC Standards. Reid describes InTASC as the backbone of the Oklahoma Competencies for Teaching. The newly-revised standards emphasize student achievement, critical thinking, and personalized learning for diverse learners.    


At the OCTP's April meeting, the commission voted to approve the InTASC standards. An ad hoc committee has been formed to set up a timeline to incorporate the InTASC standards into existing programs, as they will serve as the framework for the accreditation of Oklahoma's teacher preparation programs.


OCTP Independent Survey of First Year Teachers    


Since 2010, OCTP has conducted independent surveys of first year teachers, and this past year, for the first year, administrators have been surveyed to reveal their perceptions of the preparation process. The data is shared with schools of teacher education in an effort to drive program improvement, and Reid contends that the data findings are value added.     


The intent of the survey is to determine the teachers' and administrators' perception of their preparation, sharing the data with Oklahoma's teacher preparation programs to drive program development.


"We want to improve teacher preparation, keeping the culture of teacher preparation current," Reid said.   

             NSU's TURN Project Fuels and Reforms Urban Education


Northeastern State University's (NSU's) Teaching and Urban Reform Network (TURN) aims to prepare pre-service teachers to drive and enhance the academic achievement of culturally diverse, underserved populations - a transformative and proactive initiative, says Dr. Allyson Watson, NSU's TURN Director and Interim Assistant Dean at NSU.


NSU is Oklahoma's largest producer of teacher education graduates, and they have paired up with the state's second largest school district to offset the disparities plaguing urban schools nationwide. These issues include low achieving schools, critical teacher shortages, and the need for more clinically based alliances.

Turn Director
Dr. Allyson Watson, TURN Director


"Our first year into the program has been extremely hands- on practice and totally voluntary. The TURN project identifies those future teachers who express a desire to teach in urban schools," Watson said.


Watson described the process for three groups of candidates - early childhood, elementary, and special education majors. She explained that these candidates are placed in classrooms by their major, pairing each with a highly valued clinical faculty member of the same major.


Kelsey Dudley, an NSU sophomore and TURN cohort member, said, "I have really enjoyed it here at Hawthorne. I always pictured myself in urban setting. Dr. Watson has prepared us to go into a classroom. She has done an exceptional job in preparing us, especially those who have never been in an urban setting. Many come from rural schools. I am a graduate from Tulsa Public Schools, so I feel right at home here."


Watson explained the TURN process. "Students have three different internship experiences, so they remain in the program for the entire 16 weeks. Eight of those weeks are with their mentor teacher, but a lot of our pre-service teachers come on their own time and volunteer to be around their mentor teacher and students even more. I would say 50 percent of these students come on their time and that speaks a lot of them. "


TURN's five objectives for promoting urban education are 1.) to identify early commitments to teach in urban schools; 2.) to provide onsite urban teacher preparation; 3.)to conduct frequent evaluations; 4.) to generate support and professional development; 5.) and to create reform research and teacher leadership development.


TURN's three year project design consists of five components. All new TURN candidates will go through orientation at the NSU Broken Arrow campus, followed by 16 weeks of coursework and onsite internships while observing and learning with Hawthorne Elementary clinical faculty.


Secondly, TURN fellows will travel and engage in Future Educators Association (FEA) chapters, discussing teacher preparation and careers in teaching with FEA students. In doing so, the two will operate as a recruitment mechanism for future teachers.

Allyson Watson 1
Hawthorne Elementary Students - Photo compliments of NSU Public Relations


TURNS's third component involves TPS's Future Educator Association (FEA) members participating in NSU's Celebration of Teaching conference. This daylong event consists of workshops, presentations, and interactions, focusing on the teaching profession as a viable career option. This conference typically attracts a large percentage of minority middle school students.


In an effort to expand their practice, TURN fellows and FEA sponsors also travel throughout Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Colorado, observing the pedagogical practices of their neighboring states - TURN's fourth initiative.


Finally, the TURN fellows will host the "Annual Urban Day of Engagement," - a forum that allows community leaders and TURN fellows to engage in honest, candid discussions about pertinent, serious issues facing educational reform. These topics are relevant to improving teacher effectiveness, Watson stated.


"In all of our classrooms, students are involved in kinesthetic activities, and kids are constantly engaged," Watson said.


Caleb Branham, an NSU special education major, shared that he was glad he volunteered to be a part of the project, "I am from Poteau, Oklahoma, and Poteau doesn't have a very diverse population. I really wasn't sure what I was getting into, but it has turned out to be one of the best experiences I've had so far. Just seeing the kids and helping them when they need help has been great. Each and every time I've helped them with something, they are so grateful for the help. That's pretty awesome."


  The African-American Male Success Team Bridges Disparity to Prosperity


The U.S. Education Department recently released civil rights and schools data report, identifying Black students within Oklahoma's largest school districts are less likely to be enrolled in gifted and talented programs and more like to be suspended.


The U.S. Education Department report also showed racial disparities within a number of Oklahoma school districts, particularly among black males.


Black students represent 30 percent of Oklahoma City's student population, yet blacks represent 43 percent of in-school suspensions, 50 percent of out-of-school suspensions, and 33 percent of expulsions. Those percentages reflect the same damaging statistics throughout the country as well, according to the report.


To offset these alarming data, the mission of the African American Male Student Success Team (AAMSST) works toward changing the mindsets and influencing black males to make good decisions.

Michael Singleton AAAMSST Founder and Kevin Clayton,


Michael Singleton, AAMSST founder, and Kevin Clayton, TCC Dean of the University Transfer Program, have been on the forefront of pushing the initiative.


"The program began in 2010; however, this is the first year that we have opened the program up for volunteer mentors. Currently, we have 18 mentors throughout the college. Initially, the program began enlisting only African American professional men within the Tulsa Community college," Singleton said.


AAMSST is an intervention team that provides assistance with financial aid, admission, scholarship applications, and mentoring. In addition, it provides extracurricular activities, community events, and social networking.


The goal of AAMSST is to support and retain African American male students in their efforts toward graduation, certificate completion, and/or university transfer. The long term goal of the program is to be a resource and support mechanism in addressing the educational disparities which exist in the Tulsa community.


"Now, we have opened it up to everybody. We want to institutionalize it. In fact, the Achieving the Dream initiative is all about taking these types of projects, these interventions, and making them applicable on a large scale at the institution," Clayton said.


AAMSST Participant, Patrick Graham, Launches Not Another Statistic (NAS) Program


After Patrick Graham's father died from brain cancer when he was just 10 years old, he had a made up his mind.


Graham was adamant. He decided early on that if he was going to be successful in life, then that meant no excuses and that failure was not an option.


"Before joining AAMSST, I felt like I wasn't doing anything with my life, and that was when I began to pray and ask the Lord to give me direction. After my father's death, my mother, a strong woman, raised   three successful boys by herself. We are a very close family. With the help of AAMSST, I gained the additional support I needed. What I later learned was when I began helping others like myself, it helped me," Graham said.


Graham, a Booker T. Washington High School graduate, refused to become a statistic. In fact, he got involved with the African American Male Student Success Team (AAMSST), a mentoring program, headed by Michael Singleton of Tulsa Community College.


Chancellor, Glen Johnson and Patrick Graham, "Not a Statistic" Founder

"When I decided to move forward with the program, I talked with Ebony Johnson, the principal at McCain High School, about starting the Not Another Statistic (NAS). She supported me 100 percent. I wasn't really sure if I could pull it off, but my mother, my pastor and others encouraged me to go for it," Graham said.


NAS's criteria require that students to meet weekly for 20 to 30 minutes and bring a friend a least once a month. The participants are rewarded for positive responsible behavior and good grades. 


During the sessions, students talk about the challenges the face like gang activity, but in contrast, they also discuss ways in which they can reach desired goals. As a result, these once misdirected youth begin to redirect their lives, working hard to obtain high grade point averages, which will ultimately gain them entrance into a college or university of their choice.


Graham said when he conducted his first session, security guards escorted the participants to the meeting, which he said made him feel somewhat uncomfortable. However, over time, the students and the mentors began to cultivate relationships. Change of mindsets began to take shape. Before Graham graduated from TCC, he trained other young men to maintain the program. On occasion, he goes back to support their efforts.


Graham plans to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma. He has been awarded the Jeltz Foundation Scholarship, the George and Donna Nigh Scholarship, which is only given to one student from each Oklahoma institution. He is still waiting to hear back from other scholarships for which he has applied, namely the Pearson Foundation scholarship worth $10,000.


His extracurricular activities include TCC's conference chair for the Student Leadership conference, TriO Rise, TCC's Dream Team, Phi Theta Kappa - an honorary society, and the NAACP Youth Helping Youth conference.


"My dream is to create a nonprofit organization and implement my program everywhere in America, establishing one of the top nonprofit organizations in the U.S. I will create jobs for people, and I would like to go to Africa and implement my program there as well. It has been difficult working toward my goals, but after my dad passed away, I have had a variety of father figures in my life to look up to, for which I am deeply grateful," Graham said.



The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools Promotes the NBCT Process


Even though the National Board Certification has been on moratorium for the past two years, SB 1879 attempted to reinstate the $5000 bonuses to Oklahoma's NBCTs. However, the bill was laid over on April 26, giving the bill little chance of resurfacing this legislative session. 


However, in the wake of the moratorium,  the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools is supporting and offering training for teachers interested in the NBCT process.

National Board
Oklahoma Public School Teachers undergoing the preview session on NBCT.
Photo compliments of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools 

Robyn Hilger, Chief Program Officer for the Foundation for Oklahoma City Schools, is lending support to Oklahoma City Public Schools' prospective NBCTs by facilitating an abbreviated workshop sessions for those considering going through the process. In addition, the Foundation is also offering Take One, a single NBCT entry, which can be banked for three years and applied to the completion of the NBCT process.


Currently, two dozen teachers are previewing the NBCT process at Saturday workshops, and a couple are going through Take One.


"I respect the Legislature's responsibility to review the state's financial obligations. Scrutiny of the National Board program isn't a bad thing. In fact, it may well result in a better system. Much of the focus has been on stipends. But it is critical that the state continue to support teachers, who want to obtain National Board certification through scholarships. Those who have been through the process realize it is one of the most effective forms of professional development, and we want other teacher to have the opportunity to learn in the same way so even more children can benefit," Hilger said.


Bacone University

         Pathways Choir Enhances Clinical Practice at Bacone College


The Pathways Choir from Kirk on the Hills Presbyterian Church came to Bacone College on March 20th for a special performance. The choir is made up of adults with a variety of developmental disabilities, and members performed four songs amid a constant flow of applause.


Pathways, based in Tulsa, came to Bacone through a joint effort by part-time professor Sharon Bentley and the acting Dean of the School of Education, Dr. Sally Nichols-Sharpe. Bentley, a member of Kirk's congregation and a Pathways board member, said the Pathways program helps disabled students continue their education after high school. She said as the initiative grew, the expanding student body formed a choir almost entirely of their own accord.


"For the choir members, who also visit nursing homes and other churches, coming to Bacone seemed a logical choice. They kind of look at Pathways as their college, so the board suggested we try and find a college for them to visit," said Bentley. "I said 'why not come to where I work?' She then spoke to Nichols-Sharpe, who thought it was an excellent idea.


"I've known about Pathways for years; it's a program my husband and I support," Nichols-Sharpe said. "Sharon Bentley brought it up to me and we thought it would be great for them to sing at chapel. For our teacher education majors it is important that they develop dispositions relating to their community, both school and at large. Teacher candidates need to understand the context in which their students live. For individuals with disabilities, teachers need to understand the long term implications of their profession. The Oklahoma State Department of Education has adopted 'Oklahoma C-3', preparing students to be college, career, and citizen ready. For individuals with disabilities, there is limited access to programs that will continue to support their growth as productive citizens. Pathways is a program that is meeting that need," she said.


"They were fascinated by our student-athletes. There were some great interactions between our students and the choir," Nichols-Sharpe said. "Some of our teacher candidates admitted that they were uncomfortable about the idea of hosting individuals with developmental disabilities, but by the time lunch ended, we saw great interactions, much laughter, and a sharing of their life stories."


For Brad McCray, a senior Elementary major, the idea of another session with Pathways was appealing. "I really want to dedicate some more time to spend with those guys," he said.


The education senior said in a lot of ways, Pathways' goals reflected Bacone's goals. "I think it's a lot of the same mission - giving people an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have. I know a lot of people who wouldn't have even gone to school if it weren't for Bacone," McCray said.

Cameron University

SOEA Members Stay Busy 


Cameron's Student Oklahoma Education Association (SOEA) recently completed its annual spring project aimed at fostering reading at Carriage Hills Elementary school. Fifteen SOEA members visited the school in February and painted a mural near the kindergarten classroom. The mural featured animal characters from many popular children's books.


In addition, the SOEA members read poetry to the kindergarten students.


Each spring, SOEA chooses a local school and designs a mural that delivers a meaningful message. The program began with the painting of a mural at Douglass Learning Center in 2006, and each year, the project is well received.

Northeastern State University

National and Oklahoma TOYs Both Agree That Becoming a Teacher Is a High Calling


Northeastern State University's (NSU) President, Dr. Steve Turner, kicked off the annual Celebration of Teaching conference, acknowledging that one of the key points that he emphasizes while visiting legislators is education. 


National Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer, Photos Compliments of NSU PR


"As an added bonus," he said, "We prepare more educators than any other institution of higher education in Oklahoma, including more American Indian teachers than any other school in the world. That is sufficient to the faculty here at NSU, and that's a pretty high calling to do, and it doesn't just happen by accident. It happens because people have been committed to teacher education for generations."


Dr. Deborah Landry, Interim Dean of Education and the conference coordinator said she hopes the event will inspire the students to want to become teachers.


A new generation of prospective teachers came out to hear National Teacher of the Year, (NTOY) Michelle Shearer and Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, (OKTOY) Kristin Shelby. The two, who are also National Board Certified Teachers, shared the spotlight before more than 500 students from surrounding high schools.


Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Md., told the group that if you do not love teaching, then there is no point becoming a teacher. "I am going to ask you again, do you love teaching?" Shearer asked.


Shearer went on to ask the students about their energy level, telling them they would have to have enough energy to sustain them if they were to become teachers.


Shelby, a fourth grade teacher at Sallie Gillentine Elementary school in Hollis, Oklahoma, made a parallel remark to Shearer's comments, stating that teaching was like running a race. "The marathon race of serving as a teacher cannot be accomplished if the teacher has no energy," Shelby said.

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Kristin Shelby - Photo compliments of NSU Public Relations


These are two essential attributes needed to be an effective teacher, according to the celebrated educators.


The love for and energy to teach resonated as the theme throughout the day, which included culturally diverse presentations and workshops.   

Oklahoma Christian University
 Oklahoma Christian University English Majors Published in the Oklahoma Reader


Oklahoma Christian University (OC) Education majors are looking forward to a published article. "Moving Reading Into The Digital Age" will appear in the Spring edition of the Oklahoma Reader. This article details the action research by OC candidates using iPads to tutor struggling readers. Authors include Kimberly Leftwich, Kimberly Sherry, Katelyn Johnson, Katy Sherman, Amanda Nichols, Tori Cates, Mary Watson, Lindsay Stephens, Allison Becker, Haley Efird, Holly Guthrie, and Mrs. Rhonda Morris.

Oklahoma City University

Connecting Across Cultures Integrates and Empowers Diverse Learners and Teachers


Dr. Martha Lue Stewart, a professor and the coordinator of the Graduate Certificate Program in Urban Education from the University of Central Florida, served as the keynote speaker for Oklahoma City University's Connecting Across Cultures conference this past February.

She is considered the nation's leading expert on Multicultural Education.


When one looks through a lens and examines Multicultural Education, it appears paradoxical - rich yet complex.



Dr. Martha Lue Stewart

Photo compliments of Oklahoma City University

Most published literature identifies the 1980s as the Multicultural Education movement, a byproduct of the civil rights era, which produced a significant amount of scholarship about multiculturalism. Steewart believes that diversity education made a tremendous impact, implementing significant changes in educational institutions.


Stewart stated that during the movement, activists and educators demanded change, and now, Multicultural Education is a multifaceted approach to teaching and learning.  


"It is a practice that addresses cultural diversity, its voices, curriculum, competencies, heightening multicultural swareness," Stewart told an audience of more than 300 pre-service teachers, higher education faculty and administrators from across the state.


To kick off the conference, Stewart gave an account of her own ancestral journey, a process she says helped her better connect with those she teaches. "I am a descendant of African slaves, who settled in Monticello, Florida. My mother had a sixth grade education, and my father, who was made to work in the fields, had even less education than my mother. In 1975, my parents made only $14 per week."


Stewart, a first generation college graduate, illustrated how assumptions made by her former teachers could have distorted her potential. She stated that even though her parents did not have the same opportunity to pursue their education, they pushed and encouraged her to obtain her degrees.


"I am insulted when you tell me that you don't see my color, because my past has made me what I am today," she said.


Stewart asked the pre-service teachers to discuss their assumptions after hearing a critical incident table top case study.   The exercise instructed the students to imagine themselves as a first year teacher, who was hired in an urban school just a few weeks before school started. Their class consisted of 50 percent African-Americans; several second language learners, two students from Bulgaria; a few European Americans, and white child with a black eye. Ninety five percent of the school population received free and/or reduced lunch and were being raised by an extended family member - a grandmother, an aunt, or an uncle. The condition of his/her classroom was dismal, for it needed to be painted and cleaned; however, the principal promised that the condition of the classroom would be restored during a school break.


After small group consideration of the situation, Oklahoma City University student, Cedrick Vaughn, said, "I would say that judging from this scenario, there isn't a lot of parental support and involvement within this school. This environment would be a challenge to deal with in my first year as a teacher."


Chelsey Russell, a student at Southern Nazarene University said, "We all agreed that we weren't prepared to go into a classroom given those circumstances." Another student stood and stated that teachers have to be careful about the assumptions they make about the students they teach.


"The complexities of today's classrooms must be addressed," Stewart said. Stewart cited the famous Supreme Court case Brown v. the Board of Education that ruled that segregation in schools was illegal. "This court case proved that we need to do more to educate our children," she said.


Stewart stated that research contends that as educators, the challenge is to empower school culture. The empowerment strategy promotes gender, racial, and social-class equity, and discards school cultural biases and prejudices.  Stewart emphasized, "We want to replace these less than acceptable hindrances with learning opportunities and promoting self-esteem for all students."

Oklahoma State University

OKTOY Says Reflective, Passionate Teachers Prepare Students for a Changing World


To bestow appreciation for the pivotal role teachers play in student achievement, Oklahoma State University (OSU) commemorated its 22nd annual of Celebration of Teaching, showcasing keynote speaker, OKTOY Kristen Shelby.


The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year said in order to be an effective teacher, a teacher must be reflective.


"Don't forget that you want to impact your students' lives. Reflective teachers are passionate. They motivate. They know what works and what doesn't work, and they build relationships," Shelby said.


The OSU graduate said that when students enter school, they love attending school from kindergarten through third grade; however, by third grade, something happens. She explained that during third grade, many begin to lose hope, motivation, and soon thereafter, begin separating themselves from their peers.


Shelby told the pre-service students that when she was a student at OSU, she did not remember thinking teaching was her passion. Instead, she said teaching was her purpose, but over time, her purpose grew from her passion.


"As a student, I knew that I loved students; I loved the learning process, and I wanted to be a teacher," she said.


Shelby went on to say that the department of corrections uses one statistic to determine the number of jail cells to house future inmates, and that is third- grade reading scores. She said that it is for that reason she insists

OKTOY, Kristen Shelby

that it is critically important to grasp and ignite the desire for learning during the first three years of school.


"Passion is contagious. Not a lot of people have it, but people want to be around passionate people. It is really easy to get pumped up when everything is going smoothly. Passion is when you are willing to color outside of the lines and take chances," Shelby said.


Shelby shared that she recently had an opportunity to speak to the oldest living national teacher of the year, 86 year old Francis Herron. During her visit with Herron, Shelby said Herron went to a room to the rear of her house and returned with a paper sack full of student portfolios and speeches. Shelby said Herron  handed over to her a hand full of speeches, which dated back to 1979. Shelby said initially she thought that those 1979 speeches would be useless to her today, but she took them out of respect.


"To my surprise, I found that one of Herron's 1980 speeches, entitled the "Challenges in Our Schools," which is still relevant today," she said.


Shelby said Herron's notes identified the projected needs for the year 2000's workforce. It stated that a larger pool of educated workers would be needed in the exciting new fields of science, business, technology, and education. Herron added that teachers should place emphasis on problem solving skills, career planning, and vocational training.


Shelby reiterated, "Mrs. Herron's message is true today. How exciting to know the role you teachers will play in the great new world ahead of you. You will be the opinion shapers, the mind molders, and the key to an educated world. No other job is more important than being a teacher." 


St. Gregory's University

        St. Gregory's University's Pre-Service Teachers Serve as Judges


For the third consecutive year, the Teacher Education Department students and faculty from St. Gregory's University (SGU) sponsored and judged a speech contest hosted at St. Eugene's Catholic School in Oklahoma City.


The March 2012 competition consisted of 6th through 8th grade students, delivering one of five different types of speeches: monologue, duet acting, declaration, prose, and original oratory.


St Greg
St. Gregory's University Pre-Service Teachers and Faculty
























In addition to judging speeches, three other SGU organizations were on hand to perform or give a presentation as well.


English Education sophomore Liza McDaniel has served as a judge for the speech contest and says she looks forward to the event each year.  

"The event gave me the opportunity to put myself out there and gain experience for my major," she said. "It is a great opportunity, and I am glad to be able to do it again. By reaching out and helping St. Eugene's we, as a school, are able to expand our horizons and hopefully be able to show our support for Catholic schools."                                               



A Note from the Editor:



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

Deena pic
Deena V. Thomas,

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
Dr. Houston Davis's Parting Views on the Future of Education in Oklahoma and Nationwide
New Executive Director Hopes OCTP's Initiatives Continue
NSU's TURN Project Fuels and Reforms Urban Education
The African-American Male Success Team Bridges Disparity to Prosperty
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools Promotes the NBCT Process
Campus News: Bacone
Campus News: Cameron University
Campus News: Northeastern State University
Campus News: Oklahoma Christian University
Campus News: Oklahoma City University
Campus News: Oklahoma State University
Campus News: St. Gregory's University
Editor's Note