Another teacher who is there at the beginning of a child’s education was named Ada City Schools’ Teacher of the Year at the annual Winter Awards Banquet hosted by the Cougar Education Organization (CEO) earlier this year.
Glenwood Early Childhood Center kindergarten teacher Shawna Harrison and fellow educator ‘Gertie’ won The System’s most prestigious honor.
Harrison, who received her bachelor’s in speech and education and master’s in education from ECU, began her teaching career 13 years ago in Byng. She also worked as a paraprofessional in Ada before becoming an Early Childhood teacher at Glenwood.
She follows fellow Glenwood educator Cindy Ardrey as TOY.
In a time of a multitude of movies, TV series and video games dedicated to super heroes and their alter egos, Harrison has created a puppet character named Gertie. Gertie attends Glenwood’s Friday morning Daybreak assemblies to teach students the word of the week and the ‘Seven Habits of a Happy Kid.’
“I believe that my purpose as an educator is to expand the knowledge base of each student by using interesting and exciting techniques designed for an optimal learning experience for each child,” Harrison said, adding that, as a teacher, it is her job to make learning fun and enjoyable so that it can lead the child to realize that learning is fun.”
CEO president Trudy Winter and top assistant Janet Truitt helped introduce the other TOY winners from the other five school sites. They were: Tara Neighbors, Hayes Grade Center; Darci Reeves, Washington Grade Center; Dana McNutt, Willard Grade Center; Kathy Krebbs, Ada Junior High; and Rhonda Medcalf, Ada High.
The Winter Awards Banquet, held March 3 at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center, was also highlighted by members of the Ada Education Foundation Association who presented the medallions to grant award winners
The Mike and Leslie Dicus Memorial Grant of Excellence for the grant proposal that graded out the highest was presented to the site grant for Ada High by the science department, ‘Something’s Fishy Here.’
Cougar Paw Awards winners presented annually to the most helpful faculty member at each school site were: Lisa Waggoner, Glenwood; Diane Stilwell, Hayes, Tatum Burris Sallee, Washington; Kathy Adams, Willard; Abby Phillips, AJH; and Richard Truitt, AHS.
Neighbors has taught first grade at Hayes for four years. An OBU graduate, she received her master’s in counseling from ECU.
She sees teaching as a very rewarding career as it touches lives and helps children become better people with a balance of knowledge and understanding.
Reeves, who teaches fourth grade at Washington, is an OSU grad and has been teaching for seven years.
She comes from a teaching background as both parents were educators. She gives them credit for being very good role models.
McNutt has been teaching for 13 years after 16 years in business. She teaches computer skills at Willard and feels her one of her greatest accomplishments is teaching practical computer skills to students, skills that will last a lifetime.
She is also director of Ada Camp Goddard, the outdoor classroom for sixth graders.
Krebbs is a veteran of 27 years in the teaching field and is the ILO and Reading teacher for 7th-9th at AJH.
“My philosophy toward teaching is that I perceive a teacher as a person to teach school children to be productive learners. You do this with the aspiration of creating good community members,” Krebbs said.
Medcalf, an Ada High math teacher, has many degrees from bachelor’s in Computer Science and Cartography to a masters in Educational Technology.
She grew up surrounded by educators from her parents to aunts and uncles, but pursued careers as a cartographer, draftsman, computer programmer, office manager, chief financial officer and, most importantly, mother.
She believes the values instilled by her parents eventually led her into teaching.
“It takes many hours outside the regular school hours to develop material to present to students,” she said, adding that she sees the time was well spent when she has the satisfaction of knowing she taught a concept that the students understood.