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Three public school teachers from the OKC metro are among the 12 state Teacher of the Year finalists announced Thursday by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister.

The 2021 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year will be named in February and will begin their one year of full-time Teacher of the Year duties. Typically, Teachers of the Year travel the state to speaking engagements and leading professional development and helping recruit new people into the profession.

Each district in the state enters their district teacher of the year into the state-wide contest. The twelve then are chosen from that pool.

Stephanie Terry, Mid-Del

Stephanie Terry is a 24-year veteran Social Studies and Journalism teacher at Del City High School is the Mid-Del Public Schools Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.

District officials say she “spends countless hours in her classroom and even more hours outside of the classroom supporting all of Del City High School’s students and activities as the yearbook teacher/sponsor. She teaches AP U.S. History, Photojournalism, and Yearbook.”

Mid-Del Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb and a caravan of well-wishers surprise Stephanie Terry at her home after she was chosen Teacher of the Year for Mid-Del Schools 2019-2020.

A key quote from her application:

“We must challenge our students with difficult tasks and then come alongside them to master the task. We must teach them that it is okay to fail, but not to quit. We must hold them to a standard of excellence and teach them that deadlines and difficulties are a part of life; but how wonderful it is, once a task is completed and finished well.” 

Valerie Brink – Bethany

Valerie Brink teaches at Earl Harris Elementary in Bethany Public Schools, a district on the west side of the metro.

The key quote given by Hofmeister from her packet was:

“I know that greatness and excellence fill my classroom each and every day and that by preparing the children in my classroom today, I can better impact the world tomorrow.” 

Amy Lennertz – Piedmont

Amy Lennertz is a Sixth Grade Spanish/Theater Arts Teacher in Piedmont Intermediate School, Piedmont Public Schools on the far northwest corner of the metro.

The key quote for Lennetz’s packet was:

“Our students come into our classrooms eager to learn, and we have the opportunity to build into their lives every day. We see them grow as students, and we see them grow as individuals. Eventually they will become productive members of society, and it is an honor that we had a small part in furthering their growth.” 

Other finalists from around the state

  • Melanie Ball, Third Grade Teacher, Cotteral Elementary, Guthrie Public Schools
  • Ginger Billman, First Grade Teacher, Richmond Elementary, Stillwater Public Schools 
  • Lesa Dickson, AP Language and Composition Teacher, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow Public Schools 
  • Jessica Eschbach, Innovative Learning Coach, Norman North High School, Norman Public Schools 
  • Natalie Haworth, 10th-12th Grade Science Teacher, Durant High School, Durant Independent School District
  • Michael Patterson, High School Speech/Debate/Drama Teacher, Guymon High School, Guymon Public Schools
  • Keri Smith, Fourth-Sixth Grade Gifted and Talented Teacher, Independence Intermediate School, Yukon Public Schools
  • Krista Starbuck, PreK-First Grade Reading Specialist, Washington Early Childhood Center, Alva Public Schools
  • Lori Zimmerman, Sixth Grade Language Arts Teacher, Woodward Middle School, Woodward Public Schools

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