Donna Gradel, 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and a longtime science instructor at Broken Arrow High School, will deliver East Central University’s 2018 Marvin Stokes Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Estep Multimedia Center of the Bill S. Cole University.
Area teachers of the year will also be recognized during the event. Those being honored include: Noelle Bryan, Ada Junior High; Marty Rhodes, Ardmore High School; Kristen McGaha, Byng High School; Dana White, Davis Elementary School; Andrea Sifers, Fort Gibson Intermediate Elementary School; David Boyd, Haworth High School; Tiffany Ollifant, Latta High School; Natalie Deleplain, Little Axe Elementary School; William Higgins, Jefferson Early Childhood Center; Cara Gaddy, Pauls Valley Junior High; and Rikki Wolfe, Sasakwa Middle School/High School.
Gradel, an educator for 29 years, has taught in Broken Arrow Public Schools for 21 years. She currently teaches environmental science. Her focus was biology when she arrived in Broken Arrow, but environmental science immediately came to the forefront.
“They put me in environmental (science). I realized for me it was like a glove,” said Gradel. “It really fit because it’s interdisciplinary, and I really enjoy looking at the political aspects, the economical aspects, the energy aspects and then solving problems. It fit right into my philosophy.”
Under Gradel’s supervision, her students designed a large-scale aquaponics system to provide both clean water and a sustainable food system to raise fish and plants for orphans in a remote region of Kenya. Gradel, along with the students, then traveled to Africa to complete the system after months of research and data collection.
Gradel is also a breast cancer survivor.
“All that support and all that love really helped me get through that difficult time in my life,” she said.
The Marvin Stokes Lectureship enhances the ability of ECU to expose the students in the College of Education and educators in the university service area to ideas and trends in education on the state, national and international scene. The funding for the lectureship program is provided by the annual earnings on funds dedicated to the Marvin Stokes Endowed Lectureship through the ECU Foundation Inc. and matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.