ADA — Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year for 2007 wants people know that teaching is a very rewarding career — not financially, but in those moments when they see their students learning or doing something.

“It's seeing a student in Wal-Mart dragging every member of their extended family over to meet their teacher,” said Linda Hasler-Reid, who will be the speaker Monday in the 10th annual Marvin Stokes Endowed Lectureship at East Central University. “That's very valuable.”

She will discuss “Why We Teach: Moments that Remind Us” at 7:30 p.m. in the Raymond Estep Multimedia Center on the first floor of the University Center. The lecture is open to the public at no charge.

Donny Longest of Konawa Public Schools was one of the 10 finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. He and other area Teachers of the Year will be honored at the lecture and a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Regents Room in the Oklahoma Memorial Student Union.

A National Board Certified Teacher in world languages, Hasler-Reid has taught Spanish, English and journalism to middle school students in Muskogee Public Schools for 12 years. She has taught primarily Spanish the last four years to the sixth through eighth grades.

“That wasn't my plan,” she said. “I wanted to teach high school and then teach at a college because I thought I would be better at that. Both my husband and I teach middle school and we absolutely love them (students). They're very open to the input of a teacher. They're still very impressionable. They'll still give you a hug or make thank-you cards.”

Most people react with a sympathetic “ooh,” when Reid tells them she teaches middle school, she said.

“But I didn't start teaching until my children were in school. I got my degree when I was 30, and that might have helped me. I had two children in middle school when I started teaching.”

Reid said she married at a young age and had four children by the time she was 25. She taught fitness classes part-time and stayed home with her children. It took seven years before she graduated, summa cum laude, from Northeastern State University with a bachelor's degree in English education.

Sending her youngest child off to kindergarten made her worry — and decide to become a teacher herself, she said.

“I wondered if she was ready for kindergarten. I worried so much. What kind of a teacher would she have? What if she cried? Would the teacher hold her hand and take care of her?

“Then it dawned on me that teaching is a significant career. All parents want a teacher who will care about their child.

“We will never drive BMWs,” she added, “but we impact kids every day.”

As the 2007 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Hasler-Reid was awarded the use of a 2006 Toyota Prius for one year, cash and prizes valued at more than $30,000, tuition waivers for graduate study from four state universities, and 16 hours of free undergraduate study at the University of Oklahoma, which can be used for one of her children or a student from her hometown of Muskogee.

The Stokes Lectureship was established to recognize Marvin Stokes' distinguished career in education. He was a lifelong educator and long-time superintendent of Byng Schools. He was an ECU Distinguished Alumnus and was a member of the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame.

Stokes died in 2005.

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