Neeli Boyd is one of the 12 finalists for Oklahoma teacher of the Year.
The eight-year veteran teaches first grade at Wiley Post Elementary, 6920 W. Britton Road, in Putnam City Schools.
The district covers most of the west OKC metro.
The finalists were chosen from among teachers of the year from each district whose application packet was reviewed by a panel that included educators, members of the business community, legislators and nonprofit partners.
The announcement was made Monday by state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister at Yukon High School during EngageOK on the Road, a summer conference organized by the state department of education.
“It was a wonderful reflective process. The questions are really geared toward reflecting upon why I am teaching the things that I am passionate about,” said Boyd.
“It was very nice to be able to step back and put it on paper and really reflect and review on the things that just become a part of the day to day.”
She said the hardest part of her work was just managing the time to get done what she wants to for her students.
One high point among many this year was when a donor through DonorsChoose.org gave water bottles and wobble stools for her classroom.
Wobble stools allow students to sit, but move more during their work time.
Boyd’s superintendent, Dr. Fred Rhodes, was proud of Boyd and the all teachers in his district for the work they put in for children.
In this time of state budget cuts, superintendents have had to create new ways to attract teachers to the state and their district.
“One thing we have done is we started child care for our teacher’s children,” said Rhodes. “That’s really unusual, but more districts are doing that. We are able to provide that for a minimal cost than what it would be.”
He said the district has decided to break with the usual practice of districts in Oklahoma of only honoring five years of a teacher’s experience when they come in from another state.
PCS honors all years of experience on their pay scale.
Tammy West is former PCS board of education chair and now Oklahoma representative for House District 84.
She was present and congratulated Boyd afterward for her advancement to finalist.
Her legislative district covers the core urban area of PCS.
She said that to keep teachers like Boyd is crucial to business, which is her background.
“It’s the pipeline,” West said. “The pool is shrinking. The most important pipeline in this state is the education pipeline.”
The 2018 Oklahoma teacher of the Year will be revealed Sept. 19 at Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
The winner will remain in their classroom through the 2017-2018 school year and then, July 1, become the full-time teacher of the year traveling the state to resource and encourage other teachers.
Sponsors make it possible to pay that year of salary for the Oklahoma teacher of the Year while they are traveling.