TeachLINK Revised
Making the Connections
Issue: # 12
Summer 2015
The Oklahoma Teacher Connection 
 A Division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
A Message From the OTC Director:



Improving Education and Making a Difference




As always, we stay busy doing the work of improving education and making a difference in the lives of students!  As we embark upon a new academic year, please know that the work you do is necessary and meaningful.  Your contributions to improving teaching and learning leave a lasting mark on the tapestry of the education landscape and we appreciate all you do for this state!


In this edition of the TeachLINK, you will find stories that reflect the positive impact our efforts are making on educators and students.  It is most rewarding to see new beginnings and lasting impressions that highlight the good work being done to further education in our state.


I hope you enjoy reading this edition of the TeachLINK!













Dr. Goldie Thompson,

Director of Teacher Education and the

Oklahoma Teacher Connection

Direct from the Editor's Desk

Resilience Fuels Potential While Extinguishing Poverty


As educators gear up for the 2015-2016 school year, higher education faculty, instructional leaders, teachers and support staff throughout our state are prepared and equipped to face head on one of Oklahoma's most challenging issues - Poverty. 


During this past spring and summer, Oklahoma educators have facilitated an exciting, fiery lineup of professional development opportunities within a multitude of venues locally and abroad. These learning experiences have encouraged spirits and strengthen the skills of the teaching workforce, with the goal of meeting the underserved where they are to bring them up to where they need to be.


Poverty is real. Educators are ready to facilitate teaching and learning.


There is altruistic value in helping the poor. 


In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from a letter he wrote in a Birmingham jail, "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one, directly affects all indirectly."


New image of Deena
Deena V. Thomas, Editor










Making the Connections





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OTC News

Tulsan Elected National Educators Rising President,

Oklahoma's First


Madison Johnson, a 2015 Tulsa Memorial graduate, has been elected to lead the nation's future teachers as the 2015-16 Educators Rising National president.


"I am beyond words. I am so excited," the president-elect said.

Madison Johnson


The Future Educators Association is a student extracurricular club for aspiring future teachers. In August, the organization will transition into EdRising. The 78-year-old organization was founded by the National Education Association and is housed within the Phi Delta Kappa International family. In 2010, FEA was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a career and technical student organization.


This fresh start will push forward the next generation of revolutionary educators, according to Johnson.


Johnson previously served as FEA Tulsa Memorial's president. In April 2015, she won the $2,000 Leadership Competition, sponsored by the State Regents, which allowed her to compete for the presidential post at the 26th Annual Future Educators Association National Conference.


Johnson's "Grow Your Own Garden of Teachers" campaign has taken root within its national membership of 14,000, whose overarching goal is to recruit effective teachers for America's PK-12 classrooms.


EdRising's single most impactful strength is its networking capabilities, with chapters throughout the U.S., Germany and Northern Mariana Islands.


"Educators Rising clubs are also a social network for communicating and collaborating to support the teaching profession," Johnson said.


Johnson credits her mother, Stephanie Johnson, a Tulsa Educare teacher, and Tulsa Memorial special education teacher Karen Martin for her passion and desire to become a teacher. The Oklahoma's Promise recipient plans to attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall and major in special education.


Johnson's mother, Stephanie said, "Be true to yourself. Remain who you are and remember what I taught you, because there is no other Madison Johnson," she said.


Director of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma Teacher Connection (OTC), Goldie Thompson and the OTC coordinator, Melissa Michie both agree that Johnson's road to the EdRising presidency did not come without obstacles, but they couldn't be prouder.


"Madison will lead the next generation of teachers," Thompson said.


Oklahoma's former FEA and soon-to-be EdRising programs are facilitated by the Oklahoma Teacher Connection, a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.


To learn more about EdRising, contact Melissa Michie, Oklahoma Teacher Connection coordinator, at mmichie@osrhe.edu or 405-225-9197.


OSRHE's Academic Affairs

 The Dr. Debbie Blanke Scholarship, a Riveting Surprise for a Mentor to Many


The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education's Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Debbie Blanke is the recipient of a pattern of surprises.

Dr. Debbie Blanke

The most recent godsend took place at the Oklahoma Women in Higher Education's (OKWHE) conference this spring when Blanke was called to the podium to be recognized with the announcement of the Dr. Debbie Blanke Scholarship.

Her eyes clouded by tears and a blushed face frozen in disbelief, Blanke slowly approached the stage utterly overwhelmed.

Before a standing audience, projecting boisterous applause and ear-piercing cheers, OKWHE's charter member said sobbing, "I appreciate this more than you will ever know. This is a joy. It is totally undeserved. The scholarship is just incredible! This is just a piece of your work that you enjoy every day. When you see people come to conferences and get something out of it. You watch them through the years, and see how people advance and grow, and find their full potential - that's what it is all about! It is what we are doing for our students and for ourselves."

The scholarship was designed to acknowledge Blanke's leadership in supporting women in higher education in Oklahoma.

The first annual Debbie Blanke scholarship will be awarded in the fall 2015 to individuals enrolled as a graduate student (master's or doctorate) in a higher education-related degree program within an educational institution based in Oklahoma.

OKWHE was established in 2005 by Dr. Marlene Strathe from Oklahoma State University. Blanke facilitates the OKWHE conference annually.

To learn more about the Dr. Debbie Blanke Annual Scholarship and/or OKWHE, visit http://www.okwhe.org/?q=node/21.


OTC News

   Oklahoma's Promise is a Dream Maker and a Game Changer


Oklahoma's Promise Day at the state capitol was a jubilant celebration, with Chancellor Glen Johnson proclaiming the pledge that the work of this great program will go on.


For the 2015 Tulsa Central 4A state basketball champions, the chancellor's support scores big for Paige Denny, a Braves cheerleader, because she plans to attend the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma as an Oklahoma's Promise (OKPromise) scholarship recipient.

Tulsa Central 4A State basketball championships, Jarrell Mills, Paige Denny, head basketball coach, Eli Brown and Derrick Taylor thank Senator, Maxine Horner, for her contributions to Oklahoma.


"My biggest motivation is that parents didn't go to college, so I will be the first person in my family and my extended family to ever attend to college. I want to go that extra mile and finish my degree, so that I can have the career that I want. I will be able to enjoy myself and what I do," Denny said.


Tulsa Central high is a 100 percent free lunch school; however, with the financial backing of OKPromise, Denny, her classmates and other low income students from across the state have been given an opportunity to go to college.


At the OKPromise's 23 year anniversary celebration, Tulsa Senator, Maxine Horner, was recognized for her role in writing and working to pass the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program legislation, now Oklahoma's Promise.


To date, 6,364 OKPromise students have completed college. The scholarship is awarded to students from families that earn $50,000 or less, who make good grades and who stay out of trouble.

Tulsa Senator, Maxine Horner was recognized at the OKPromise celebration.



"When we began drafting the language for the bill, I kept the GPA at 2.50, and I ran into several brick walls. Others debated the GPA should have been much higher. My thought was, we already had a gifted program, and I figured there may be extenuating circumstances. Give this person with a 2.50 GPA an opportunity to strive for the higher GPA. When I was tracking the students who took advantage of the opportunity, their GPAs were 3.0 and above," Horner said.


Making a conscious decision to be a good student and a good athlete requires work, according to Central's basketball coach, Eli Brown. He stated that athletics and academics are similar because both require discipline. Athletics and academics mirror each other, and many athletes today are great students as well.


"To train to be an athlete, there are certain protocols, certain timeframes and certain things you have to do to prepare. The same holds true for academics. You have to find time to study and do the things you really don't want to do to be a good student," Brown said.


USAO Freshman, Paige Denny

 Horner visited Central High School to personally congratulate the students on winning the state championship, as well as meet those OKPromise students preparing to enter college this fall.


When Denny met Horner, she shared words of appreciation for thinking about students like her, those who do not have the financial means to fund a college degree.


"Thank you, Ms. Horner for caring about us - the TPS kids. Many times others do not always think about us. We are the little guys, and we get looked over a lot. It is great to have someone recognize you. 'Instead most people ask, oh, are you sure you are going to college?' And I reply - Yes! I am going to college. Thank you, Ms. Horner," Denny said.


More than 100 past and present OKPromise students were present at the state capitol for the college access festivities to hear the governor, legislators and other state dignitaries offer praise and endorse one of the state's premier college completion programs.


The Honorable Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Tom Colbert, a steadfast OKPromise advocate said, "I am very pleased and honored to see students have an opportunity to attend college, because I remember when Maxine Horner authored this bill for low and disadvantaged children. The opportunity to see the different faces of individuals who have benefitted from the scholarship is just amazing."

The Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,

Tom Colbert


Chancellor Johnson said the college access program was designed to make students' dreams come true.


Horner thanked the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for the agency's leadership in pushing the program forward, expressing words of appreciation for Bryce Fair, the OKPromise overseer, for keeping her abreast of any changes or amendments.


"OkPromise is the greatest accomplishment of my 18 year legislative career," Horner said.


Northwestern Oklahoma State University

   Retiring Educator Lived the Lesson of Character She Taught


Beverly Warden, the consummate educator, closes out her career at the same institution, where she acquired her education to become a teacher - Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU).


She entered the classroom in 1979 at Jet-Nash Schools, which is located less than an hour away from NWOSU. However, after serving eight years as a teacher, she set out to secure several advanced degrees that propelled her life's work forward.

Dr. Beverly Warden

 Destined to be an administrator, Warden earned two master's degrees from the University of Central Oklahoma in reading and in administration. Progressing onward, she continued her education by obtaining a second administrative certificate from Kansas Newman University. Crowning her profession, she was awarded a doctorate degree in Education Administration from Oklahoma State University.


After serving in public education for nearly four decades, Warden has stepped down as NWOSU's Chair of Education, a position she held for three years.


"I have been blessed to enjoy a phenomenal career. Now, as I move into retirement, I take with me the many wonderful relationships that have proved most beneficial to me personally and professionally. No one could have asked for more," Warden said.


According to the staff and students, she gave so much to everyone who crossed her path. The retiring educator spent 16 years on NWOSU's campus; and during her tenure, those who knew her said she impacted their lives in extra original ways.


Her colleagues praised her interpersonal strengths and administrative skills, and former Rangers expressed their appreciation for how she lived her life to uplift and help others.


Former student, Donna Shockey, who is currently a NWOSU adjunct professor and a P-12 teacher said, "Beverly's patience and kindness as an instructor greatly impacted me as both a student and now as an adjunct. She imparted a plethora of knowledge for both academic and management aspects I know that I pose."


Director of student teaching, Dr. Martie Young said, "This is tough for me to choose, but I would say we looked to Beverly to bring the whole campus together when we needed TEF support, regarding uniform syllabi, team building, common cause, SPA reports etc. Beverly pulled it all together."


As the education profession evolved, so did Warden by consistently working to keep pace with new standards and reforms that continue to transform teaching and learning, a challenge she admits educators will continue to face.


"Effective teacher education and successful student academic outcomes was my primary focus, and our team worked hard to ensure that we met the needs of the teacher candidates and the students they would soon teach," Warden said.


Assistant certification officer, Natalie Miller said, "Beverly spent countless hours working on the TEAM reports and data to help faculty assess their areas of concerns and accomplishment in their education programs."


Patty Pulliam, an adjunct professor said, "Beverly cared for NWOSU students and wanted them to be successful teachers."


As the teacher of record, Dr. Beverly Warden set the standard and facilitated reform. She worked and lived a life of character. It can be said that Warden's career objective was to infuse and sustain character building within the college of education, a lesson that will outlive her tenure at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.


Oklahoma City University

   Oklahoma City University Recreates a Poverty Experience


Hurry up and wait.


Standing in line for long extended periods of time is an everyday occurrence for the poor.


Typically, the underserved get up early to stand in line, as well as make multiple visits to the same social service agency in order to get their basic needs met like food, shelter, utilities, transportation, medical care and child care.


For the poor, their life is a revolving door, a vicious cycle of operating in survival mode, living from hand to mouth. The American dream of earning a living wage, owning a home, a car, and having the ability to provide for their children is foreign and abstract.


Oklahoma City University's (OCU) validated the marginalized existence by recreating a professional development experience that gave pre-service teachers an inside view of what it is like to teach the poor and experience how they live.


OCU simulation
Pre-service teachers move throughout OCU's poverty simulation.

Poverty came to life at OCU's Connecting across Cultures, Poverty Simulation with Bob Brandenburg and Wanda Welters.


The poverty simulation also taught pre-services how to cope and navigate their way through a maze of poverty and resurface from it by learning from the Resiliency Project, facilitated by Patricia Webb and Marcia Greenwood.


Brandenburg told the future educators that the simulation was designed to take them out of their comfort zone.


"Poverty is reality for 600,000 Oklahomans, according to the 2013 Census data. We want you to face the realities of a family living on a limited income. We are going to place you under pressure. We are going to create challenges for you, but you are going to have to deal with the challenges. Sixty-two percent of Oklahoma's children qualify for free and/ or reduced lunch made available through the public school system," Brandenburg said.


Teacher candidates were placed in groups, and each person within the group was assigned a character to play in the poverty simulation, which included single parents, married couples, children, teacher or social service provider.


Brandenburg told the teacher candidates, "The goal for the month is to keep the family secure, feed the family on a regular basis, keep the utilities turned on, make sure the rent or mortgage is paid and deal with the luck of the draw of the cards, like unforeseen expenses or lack of childcare," he said.


As the simulation began, the family structure overview was read, and the players became familiar with their challenges.


By the close of the simulation, it appeared that the more the parent(s) tried to reach the family's prescribed goals, the further behind they fell, and the hopes and the dreams they had for their family became completely out of reach.


As a result, bills went unpaid, valuables were pawned, families were evicted from their homes and children were frequently tardy or absent from school.


Poverty disrupts active living. When a family lives their life in a constant state of chaos, a child's learning and a teacher's instruction are both at risk, according to Brandenburg.


To counteract the imbalance, Webb and Greenwood taught teacher candidates strategies to help students develop skills to regain control of their lives, calming techniques such as focused breathing, reflective writing and safe sharing. 



Carey Hudges
Carey Hughes, OKCPS Pre-service teacher

Practicing these methods will help the underserved develop effective resilience traits, which include independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, morality and others.


"The school where I teach is 100 percent free lunch. Education is not a big deal. You have to be there by law, and the parents get them to school, and at that point, they believe their job is done. I understand why they feel that way now, because they don't have enough time in their day. They are too busy making other decisions for the survival of their family," Oklahoma City Public Schools student teacher, Carey Hughes said.


Reading conference



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
OTC News
OSRHE's Academic Affairs
OTC News
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma City University