TeachLINK Revised
Making the Connections
Issue: # 10
Summer/Fall  2014
The Oklahoma Teacher Connection 
 A Division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
A Message From the OTC Director:


Greetings and Welcome Back to School!!


It seems as if change is always on the horizon, but that does not deter us from our goal of recruiting, retaining, and placing teachers in Oklahoma's class. In this edition of the TeachLINK, you will find a wonderful array of exciting initiatives taking place throughout our great state addressing the various ways in which we are supporting teachers, including a new teacher induction pilot program! You will also be able to observe how many of our institutions of higher education are working to provide exceptional professional development to teachers in an effort to help grow professionally and impact student learning in a positive way!


Let me also point out that the information contained in this newsletter does not proved a comprehensive view of all that is taking place in Oklahoma. The difficult, yet rewarding work of teaching and learning is supported on many levels and in many different ways! From the great plains of Guymon to the beautiful hills of Poteau, we have seen excellence that rivals the best of scholarly advancement! These are rare glimpses inspire the greatness we all strive to achieve.


Please enjoy this edition of the TeachLink!



new goldie signature











Dr. Goldie Thompson,

Director of Teacher Education and the

Oklahoma Teacher Connection

Direct from the Editor's Desk

 Oklahoma Teachers Are Taking Charge, Promoting a Self-          Made Marketing Plan That Echoes a Message of Success

                                          in the Midst of Change


With your permission, please grant me this one opportunity to sound somewhat cliché- ish, but the best form of advertising is cultivated and promoted by the group(s) impacted.


In this issue, the teachers are their own advocates!


Teachers are leading their own movement! It is a multileveled movement - a movement by teachers for teachers!


Teachers are leaders. Teachers are training other teachers. Science and math teachers are the forerunners in the STEM fields. Mentor and mentee teachers are steadfast proponents in and out of the classroom for the students they teach and for the communities they serve.


Teachers have created, have put in place, and are successfully carrying out their own standards, labeled as high, unprecedented expectations in the midst of change, which are being executed with courage and tenacity.


Teachers are defining themselves!


Teachers' voices are echoed throughout this issue of TeachLINK, transporting a viral message that says - Take notice, for Oklahoma's children are making academic headway, because we are committed!  


Deena V. Thomas, Editor


Making the Connections,

 Deena signature




Synthesizing the Practice

Teacher Induction Pilot and Federal Grants Ignite a Supportive Movement for Teacher and Student Success 


Teacher support added to effective teacher and student outcomes equal the grit needed to meet the demanding realities of public education, an equation made up of more positives than negatives.


The positives charges changing the order of operations include the Oklahoma Teacher Induction Pilot program (OTIP) that aims to retain and retain first year teachers, as well as the impressive line-up of Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Improving Teacher Quality Grants blanketing the state, which reduces the number of students needing remediation.


It took the entire spring and summer of 2014 to plan, prepare, and implement these programs for the fall of 2014-2015 school year, and the timing could not be more perfect.


Oklahoma Teacher Pilot Program


This fall, 16 of the 24 colleges of teacher education are participating in OTIP, and first year teacher participants' progress plus their satisfaction with the pilot initiative will be traced and reported out at the close of the semester.


Fueling these efforts are the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE).


The two educational agencies have provided training and resources for participating teacher preparation programs, and as an added bonus, collaborating institutions have been given the green light and the flexibility to design its own pilot induction program. In doing so, the best OTIP practices will be gathered to inform and provide model options, which can be used when HB 2885 is implemented.


OEQA's Director of Educational Quality, Renee Launey-Rodolf said, "The overarching goal of OTIP is to orientate mentors and guide entry year educators to accelerate the professional growth of novice teaches, and at the same time, reduce the teacher attrition rate, while enhancing student learning."


Langston University Professor Mentors OKCPS Teacher


Despite the Oklahoma Teacher Residency's moratorium and before the kickoff of OTIP, higher education professors statewide remained steadfast and committed to relationships with teacher candidates regardless of where the in-service teacher graduated.


Countless professors continued to operate as if the 2000 Teacher Warranty was still in effect. The State Regents' Teacher Warranty accompanied the Oklahoma Teacher Residency program, which guaranteed the quality of both teacher education and alternatively prepared teacher. The teacher warranty promised to nurture the continuing development of teachers.


Pockets of mentoring never ceased, according to Dr. Marsha Herron, a Langston University Assistant Professor of Special Education.


Herron formed a bond with Kyrie Coon, a special education K-6 teacher from Britton Elementary with Oklahoma City Public Schools, resulting in what Coon describes as her strength to teach.


The University of Oklahoma Hosts Brock Prize in Education Laureate, Ellen Moir, Endorses Teacher Induction


The 2014 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate, Ellen Moir, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the New Teacher Center (NTC), is one of the nation's leading scholars known and celebrated for her work with beginning teacher development and school reform. 


"Designed thinking is a big deal in America today. Designed thinking is what education needs. We need to be able to reinvent ourselves and pivot to create these new opportunities for teachers and for leaders. Educators need more career opportunities and pathways to go," Moir said.

Dr. Ellen Moir



A panel of deans, professors, and education officials shared details about the teacher preparation process and what accessible resources are made available to K-12 teachers. A second panel comprised of a dozen or more Tulsa Public School's mentors and mentees gave a candid account about the challenges first year teachers' face. In addition, the mentees spoke about how they overcame those adversities because of the guidance and encouragement their mentor teachers provided.


There appears to be a supportive teacher and student collaborative growing network swiping the state, with one objective in mind - to promote effective teaching and learning.


"Despite the challenges we face in teacher education, one thing is certain, the Oklahoma Teacher Connection will continue to find ways to support higher education faculty and the teacher they produce for our classrooms. It is the intent of our division, as we partner with other colleagues in the field to help produce quality and effective teachers for Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Teacher Induction Pilot (OTIP) program, as well as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Improving Teacher Quality grants are two initiatives that underscore this very purpose," said Goldie Thompson, Director of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma Teacher Connection. 

            The Mentor and Mentee Bond is the Lifeline to a

         Long-Lasting  Relationship and a Transformed Career


Do you want to be a millionaire - a rich novice teacher, yielding well-to-do, high end benchmark tests, resulting in student academic success - figuratively or in reality?


Figuratively speaking, the notion of investing in first year teachers does not sound like too much of a financial strain.


However, in reality, factoring in the true cost to recruit, retain, and support entry teachers in the midst of a teacher shortage makes for a practical and strategically results-driven plan to ensure Oklahomans are set on a path to lead the way for others to follow.


According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 419,000 new teachers will be hired in 2015 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). The report also suggests that between 40 to 50 percent of the new hires will leave the teaching workforce within five years (Ingersoll, 2012) Of those exiting, research also indicates that an induction program can increase teacher retention rates - but this impact depends on the quality of supports provided (Ingersoll, 2012, Smith & Ingersoll, 2004), which is reported in the article entitled, Supporting New Teachers: What do We Know About Effective State Induction Policies?, taken from the(Policy Snapshot, May 2014).


The research validates that such a plan is needed, according to 2014 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate, Ellen Moir, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the New Teacher Center (NTC), a national organization founded in 1998 to scale high quality teacher induction services nationwide.


"It was a pleasure to listen to the new teachers. It was especially a treat to me, because I believe to be compelled and to keep this work going; I need to hear the voice of new teachers. I need to know that the work we are doing is actually important to them. I began my journey in teacher education, and I was haunted by the fact that by October of the first year, my teachers called - some sobbing, some saying, 'Oh my God, I have parent compliments and some students are misbehaving. I didn't know it would be like this. ' And when this happens, first year teachers lose their confidence, and the kids know it." Moir said.


The Brock Education Laureate challenged higher education professors to position themselves to step up and help entry year teachers succeed. "As pre-service instructors, we have a moral obligation to help first year teachers in America and their students. We must help them soar early on. To build the habits, minds, expertise and talents from the get go, because your first year of teaching is extremely complex," Moir stated.


To achieve millionaire status, time spent cultivating mentor and mentee relationships equate to improving teacher attrition, elevating student performance, resulting in enhanced lives across the board. To top it off, mentor lifelines of support and guidance are necessities, not minimal requirements, all calculated at a cost effective rate.


Langston University professor, Dr. Marsha Herron, met Moir's challenge and was the lifeline and the first responder for Kyrie Coon, a first year teacher at Britton Elementary, an Oklahoma City Public School (OKCPS). Over time, their relationship evolved into a priceless comprehensive portfolio comprised of a cadre of diversified contributions.


Lifeline 1: 50/50 Option


According to the (U.S. Department of Education (2007) almost a quarter of entering public-school teachers leave the teaching profession within the first three years, and they exit at a much higher rate when they work in low performing schools. For the record, OKCPS, the state's largest urban district, is no exception to the trend.


According to Coon, Herron showed up when she was at the brink of emotional exhaustion. As Coon's expressed words of appreciation, she sobbed softly, overcome with gratitude and



First year teacher, Kyrie Coon and LU Professor, Dr. Marsha Herron


"She taught me that you cannot take the cramp anymore. You can't let a student, a colleague, parents, and/or administrators treat you badly and walk all over you. I had been walked over, backed up over many times, and I just wanted to be able to have clarity. I am not going to be rude or unprofessional, and they are not going to take a chunk out of my heart. Herron saved my career," Coon said.


"She is not a punching bag for the colleagues. She is not a punching bag for her students. She was just trying to survive," Herron said.


Coon and her husband who is also an OKCPS teacher at the neighboring Greystone Upper Elementary, just a little over three miles south of Britton elementary, relocated to Oklahoma City from Cincinnati, Ohio after being recruited at a college job fair. The two small Catholic college graduates left their familiar surroundings to jump start their careers, as well as embark upon a new life as newlyweds, but for her, insurmountable challenges lie ahead.


The special education teacher said August, September and a part of October was very, very rough for her. "I left right after school at 3:30 p., went home and got in bed, because I was depressed and upset. I thought, I moved away from home, and I wasn't receiving the support I needed, or the guidance. I was just left to figure it out on my own. My husband noticed a difference in me, because I was constantly sleeping and crying. It wasn't what I thought it would be," Coon said.


Herron met Coon when the LU professor was fulfilling the 10 hours of professional development required by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Coon approached her and asked help. A few weeks later, Herron showed up at Britton Elementary and their relationship emerged, laying the groundwork for a restored and collaborative student, colleague, administrative, and parental teaching and learning community.


It was the mentor/mentee relationship that changed the tide for Coon. Herron guided Coon to create and maintain a well-managed learning environment, positively impacting both the teacher and her students' learning experience, and Coon credits Herron for the transformation.


"She taught me to reflect and change the whole classroom dynamics," Coon said.


Herron said, "She didn't have a mentor teacher, and no one was available to help her. She was receiving more of 'you are not doing this or that,' but I replied that she is a first year teacher, and who can do everything in their first year?"


Initially, Herron instructed Coon to change the classroom around  to cut down outbursts, creating natural barriers between her and kids. Once the boundaries were in place, the classroom was under control, Herron said. The two began working on teaching strategies, all of which were constructed and rooted in trust among all shareholders.


Lifeline 2: Phone to a Friend


"Now, that I have Marsha's support, I feel 100 percent better. We have a phenomenal relationship. It is a lot of give and take, but I know that she is here to help me. I can call her anytime, and I have a voice on the other end to listen and help. Having her help has really changed my whole experience. I don't mind coming to school anymore. I look forward to seeing my kids daily. I stay later to get things done. I am actively involved. I go home now, and I have a normal life. There are still struggles here and there, but nothing like it was," Coon said.


Lifeline 3: Ask the Audience


"You are in a fight for kids' lives. You can't approach teaching like any other career. You are fixing people. We are not saving them, but we're improving their quality of life. I was talking to a physician, and this person said that only doctors save lives.  I responded I can breathe into a school that will eventually turn out a doctor. Before it was a you, a doctor, there was someone, who taught you, a classroom teacher -  Remember that," Herron said. 


The mentor and first year mentee relationship is worth every penny - just ask the community a teacher serves. 



Creating New Discoveries - ESEA Title II Part A Grants

                   Kool KESAM's Math Manipulatives Complete

                 the Hands-On Teaching and Learning Experience 


It is not about algorithms. It is not about memorizing rules or formulas.


However, it is all about -KESAM - Kindergarten through Eighth Scholars Appreciating Mathematics - A Hands - On, Brains - On Journey of Excellence, which translates to Mathematics made fun, kool, and all the above! 

KESAM Teacher,

Steve Tiller


"KESAM has made me a better overall teacher," Steve Tiller said. Tiller is a 7th grade math and algebra teacher from Cashion High school, who is also the son-in-law of Jan Sands, a KESAM facilitator. He serves as part of the KESAM team, helping to transport two trailer truck loads of manipulatives to and from professional development sites from across the state.


Sands and Dr. John Woods of Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) have been the key facilitators of the project for the past 22 years. Partnering with SWOSU during this two-year grant cycle is Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) and Carl Albert State College (CASC), serving a total of 250 teachers statewide.


KESAM's Mathematics Institutes provide resources, personnel, concepts, materials, and enthusiasm on the teaching and learning of math.

KESAM Facilitator,

Dr. John Woods 


"Jan and I are a close knit team in planning each workshop and the hours spent in the workshops. I help each day with the end-of-day debriefing and adjustments to be made based on the participants' input and need; plus, planning the next day with Jan. Jan does most of the instructional work during the worships, selecting the materials and manipulatives to be used, with my input, as a well as developing new classroom activities and printed materials," Woods said.


Historically, Oklahoma has had a continuous shortage of math and science teachers, and projects like KESAM help maintain the level of sustainability of math teachers, while acting as a catalyst to recruit and retain math teachers. 

KESAM Facilitator,

Dr. Jan Sands


Tiller said he constantly gets requests from other districts recruiting him to come and teach at their school. "I am not a typical high school math teacher. My room is filled with manipulatives that I use, and I don't use a text book. My classroom is bright and inviting. I love to watch the look on my students' faces the first time they come into my room. I am excited about teaching math, and I think other schools can see that," Tiller said.


KESAM middle school, teacher leader, Jessica Walden, from Arkoma Public Schools, is completing her fifth year with the project and said that KESAM saved her teaching career. Walden explained that she used to have a routine by which she took her classes through a regiment and by Friday, if her students failed to pass the test, then her attitude was that she did not have time to spend any additional time on the topic. 


"I have been with KESAM five years, and now, my students enjoy math...ALL OF THEM. We do hands-on things that make math more concrete and help them to understand why it works. Hands-on allows students to explore and discover math knowledge, rather than me standing over them trying to lecture into their brains. My students walk away with more critical thinking and problem solving skills, a firm foundation in math fundamentals, and all things that work together to make them successful in math," Walden said. 

KESAM Teacher Leader,

Jessica Walden


Woods commented that the KESAM training provides a "safe" learning environment, where it is okay to make mistakes - "We are learning together. Making mathematics understandable and fun, and training teachers to make it fun and understandable for their students, greatly increases math student performance," he said.


With the expectation of 100 percent attendance, Woods said, "Second year teachers and group leaders spark enthusiasm and teaching ideas by sharing their excitement, classroom activities, and student results."


One example of a student's sentiments is shared by a KESAM teacher. She said he commented, "It's the little things that bless my heart...during class today one my kiddos blurts out. Mrs. B, I never realized math could be as much fun as recess!"


The KESAM teacher replied, "Now, I'm considering that praise, especially coming from a 10 year old boy," she added.


Tiller summed up the KESAM student, teacher, teaching and learning experience in one word - Complete!

OTC News




                  Judy Holland's 33 Year Teaching Career Quietly

           Recruited and Replenished Oklahoma's Pool of Teachers


The manner in which she first entered her classroom mirrored her departure - quietly making a difference.


Judy Holland gave a chronological account of her entering the classroom as a first year teacher, a calm and polite yet powerful facilitator.


Closing out her 33 year career, the professional provided a simple narrative that described how she exited her classroom, a seasoned caring, insightful and impactful teacher, who passed the baton onto the next lineage of future teachers. 

Judy Holland dedicated 33 years to the teaching profession.


The pre-education and Academic Commitment to Education Program (ACE) teacher from the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton described her entry year of teaching as pleasurable. In a soft spoken voice, Holland told a story of how she patiently and slowly provided instruction to a German military housewife, who had never worked outside of the home. She explained how she taught her the fundamentals of life management, keeping a checkbook, as well as managing money.


"I remember her like it was yesterday. She was very nice lady. She wanted to learn accounting. She just let me do anything to help her. She didn't balk at anything, saying this is overwhelming, or this is too much work for me. She just couldn't get enough," Holland said.


To show her gratitude, the military housewife wrote a letter expressing her appreciation, which Holland framed, and it hung on her office wall for more than 30 years. "I never told her I had hung her letter," Holland said.


Holland, a petite powerhouse, was a just as determined and driven at the end of her career as she was at the beginning, managing to motivate her students to place in the top at the 2014 Future Educators Association National Conference in Minnesota, a first for Oklahoma.


Great Plains student, Renee Vasquez, said "Holland taught her students lifelong skills like time management, and more importantly, she taught us professionalism. Teenagers in this day and age need to be taught how to act and respond professionally. She has also taught us how to write papers, among many other things."


Two dozen or more teaching mementos populated Holland's office, one being a picture with former State Superintendent of Instruction, Sandy Garrett, awarding her a certificate for earning National Board Certification.


When she renewed her national board licensure, Holland said she had to select four areas, where she had grown professionally. She said that was easy, because a great deal of what she had learned, she had gained from her own learning community.


"Each year, I have learned and incorporated new technology into my classroom. Technology played a huge role in my professional growth. Another area of growth included classroom management. To renew my licensure, I shared the different things I had learned from other teachers at my school, from teachers at other schools, from my administrators, and from just doing it. You know you learn by doing," Holland said.


Holland said her longevity in the classroom is connected to her love for the students. "I love the students. I loved working with the supportive administrative staff here at Great Plains. We have the most wonderful administrative staff here. Everybody here supports all of the teachers. They make it a point to support us. It has made my job better, and I couldn't ask for anything more," Holland said.


Holland stated teaching is hard work. She said she took work home each night, and her students, who went through the ACE program have a good understanding of what it is like to be a teacher. "Teachers are like parents, so when my former students enroll at Cameron University and go into the teacher education program, they are more likely to stay and complete an education degree," Holland said.


One living example of one of Holland's former ACE students completing an education degree from Cameron University is Tyler Blout.


"Mrs. Holland is always optimistic and encouraging to all of her students. She is always patient and never lets a student think less of him or herself. As I am nearing the end of my education, I remember Mrs. Holland's qualities and have begun to incorporate them into my practice as well," Blout said.


Teachers teaching students to become teachers is one powerful marketing tool to recruit, retain, and replenish Oklahoma's pool of teachers - Judy Holland's teaching career left an imprint that confirms it. 




                          Project Lead the Way Navigates Through

                                       Uncharted STEM Pathways


Project Lead the Way (PLTW) , is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiative, which is all about integrating math and science together, and then applying it to real world situations in a project based manner, according to Jackie Archer, master teacher of the Biomedical Innovation (PLTW) from the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton.

The PLTW Teacher Training

PLTW instructors, Lori Lovette, Mimisha Sweetman, and Jackie Archer

This summer, Archer and a team of certified PLTW trainers setup and facilitated a four sequence PLTW training, covering the content areas of Principles of Biomedical Science, Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions, and closing out with the capstone course, Biomedical Innovation, which took place at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC).

To be considered for the PLTW two week training, secondary and career technology teachers were required to successful complete both an upper level math and science courses. Participating teachers completed 17-18 pre-readiness assignments before coming to the training. The objective of the PLTW training is to teach teachers how to correctly facilitate and execute STEM labs in order to operate within a project based platform to funnel industry prepared students into the workforce.


PLTW teachers practice on simulators during their training.

"It is a huge amount of work to complete prior to coming to the training; however, teachers are actually going to do here what they are going train their students to do. We want the teachers to know how to actually conduct the labs, and in do so, they will be able to transform their classroom into a collaborative work space with the students and with their project based programs," Archer said.

The PLTW Learner and Industry Needs


The skills learned from the PLTW program is transferred to the learner, preparing workers for today's industry demands Archer and Lori Lovette, PLTW master teacher at the Red River Technology Center in Duncan stated. Plus, the facilitators said industry professionals come and inform them what type of workers they need in the workplace.

"Sometimes the projects start out as little projects that work, and then it turns into a huge project. However, despite the size of the program, we focus in on those skills that industry tells us that they need and are looking for in their workers," Archer said.

Archer explained that PLTW is for the flexible learner. "This program is for the person that can think critically and creatively to solve problems, along with team building skills. It is obviously in medicine, you have to work as a team, as well as integrating the technology into what they are attempting to do," she said.

Capstone projects set the stage to entering today's workforce, releasing prepared workers to tackle and drive solutions for Capstone projects. Capstone projects typically run the gamut in variety, ranging from community based activity, such as toxic waste disposal plan that could include how to dispose of batteries, stretching to futuristic method of research like Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the study and application of extremely small things that can be used, extending across the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.

"That's what makes this project so fun! There are so many things we can explore," Archer said.

Archer commented that mentorship capstones have been a long standing part of the program at Great Plains. "My students have gotten to do 24 hours' worth of surgery, where they are standing 18 inches away from the patient as doctors, nurse, and other healthcare professionals were operating. Isn't that exciting! I am so excited for my students! We are very fortunate, because Comanche County Hospital is a huge partnership with us, and they are very, very accommodating," Archer said.

Lovette said because the National Science Foundation's money is tied to outreach, PLTW's rural, as well as other sites have remained connected during and after the training, supporting teachers with all needs. "This program has been extremely collaborative. Frequently, our facilities are toured by interested parties, who are contemplating as to whether or not; they might desire to institute a PLTW program at their school. We are always ready and available to help," she said.

Pioneer Technology Center in Ponca City is also a PLTW site, and facilitator, Mimisha Sweetman, stated that she takes her students out of the classroom to explore different pathways to bio-med. "I instruct my students on how to do formal presentations, which requires students to dress professionally, and they present to board members, teachers, counselors, and parents. Their presentations are posted to livestream.com, and anyone can go on and watch my students online," Sweetman said.

Long-Standing Bio-Medical Partnerships

"For the past eight years, Lulla and I have been working with the Future Health Scientists Partnership Program (FHSPP) under the direction of Angela Monson, OUHSC's Associate Provost for Community Partnerships & Health Policy," Bessie Bryant said. 

PLTW facilitator, Bessie Bryant


The Office of Community Partnership and Health Policy's mission is to establish and maintain partnerships and relationships to put in place programs, activities, and initiatives critical to creating opportunities for diverse populations.


"We offer elementary and secondary programs that are relevant for students and professional development for teachers, upping the rigor, as well as keeping the students interested to help prepare students for the STEM fields," Monson said.


Bryant is science teacher at Springlake MetroTech Career Academy, and Lulla Wilson is an Oklahoma City Public Schools' science teacher at Northeast Academy for Health Sciences and Engineering Enterprise School.

"Together, we both created the biotech classes at Oklahoma City Community College and Langston University in the 1990's," Wilson said.

Bryant, a 29 year career master teacher, and Wilson, a 35 year master instructor, not only work with FHSPP, but they are also serve as facilitators with Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), and PLTW.

"I start with the fifth graders, and we keep them until they are in the 12th grade. We also have recent high school graduates, who return to participate in a paid internship on the OUHSC campus. This is something that we've been working towards for a long, long time. Now, we finally got it to the place where our 12th graders are doing the paid internships, giving them a little bit of money when they go off to college," Bryant said.

A Malika 2014 graduate, Tanner Bowen, was PLTW student, who attended Wes Watkins Technology Center and gained instruction in macular biology. Bowen and Sam Allen, a Duncan PLTW student, completed an internship at the Oklahoma Medical Research Center this past summer.

Allen attended the Red River Technology Center, and both young men agreed that PLTW provided a wealth of labs and experiences not being offered at their local high schools.

Bowen is a biology major and currently attends Oklahoma Christian University.

"The one thing I know about biomed is that it gave me the opportunity to go to my dream school," he said. Allen is a student at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. "Ms. Lovette pushed me to apply for schools I really think I should have been applying for. I attribute that to the biomed program. Biomedicine gave me so many more opportunities I never would have imagined," Allen said.


Character Education

 Muskogee Educator Takes  the Helm of CEP's

National Director of Schools of Character


Muskogee is known throughout the U.S. for its Azalea Festival, as home to Oklahoma's first state and national school of character, and now, as having one of its own educators take on a pivotal leadership role for Character Education Partnership (CEP) based in Washington, D.C. 

Sheril Morgan, an Oklahoma Educator, has been named CEP's National Director of Schools of Character

Sheril Morgan, a former Muskogee High School counselor and a key contributor to the district's national character education recognition, has been named CEP's director of schools of character education.

CEP's mission is to serve as a national advocate and leader for the character education movement. Each year, CEP awards and recognizes national, state, and promising practices schools throughout the U.S., and international affiliates.

Recipients of the honors have presented compelling data that fosters CEP's 11 Principles of Effective Character Education, which the organization calls the framework for school success.

As CEP's national director of schools, Morgan said, "I want to strengthen state coordinator networks with collaboration, resources, best practices, and fund development opportunities, so that they may be equipped to see systemic state growth."

Morgan spent 12 years as a Muskogee educator, and she said while there, she served as a strategic leader in assessment, implementation, training, and strengthening the implementation of the 11 Principles within the school.

"I am enchanted by the transformation that occurs when educators embrace the process of using the 11 principles as a lens to gauge the culture of their school and then work to improve their community," Morgan said. "I know the framework, process, and more than know it, I am passionate about it, and I can provide concrete examples of the process and results of implementation."

"A unified vision is important for a leadership team to intentionally implement the 11 principles, not for the sake of the award, but for the sake of seeing a good school becomes great," Morgan said.

In a 2013 interview, Morgan stated that Muskogee's community of families she served were her family, and as a result of the bonded relationships, a favorable and improved shift elevated student academics, attendance, behavior, and civic and community engagement.

Morgan stated that Oklahoma character coordinator, Madison Tomlinson and his team of ambassadors will continue the work by reaching out to schools to begin, train, and ignite the character education movement.

According to Morgan, having being selected for the CEP post illustrates that Oklahoma is doing great things in education. "It gives me a great deal of joy, the amount of people who reach out to me to tell me how proud that it makes them I am representing Oklahoma as well. I am humbled everyday by the blessing of being chosen," she said. 

The Oklahoma Teacher Connection TeachLINK


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

In This Issue
A Message From the OTC Director
Direct from the Editor's Desk
Synthesizing the Practice
OTC News
STEM Snapshots
OTC News
STEM Snapshots
Character Education
Editor's Note