By Traci Chapman
Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting Monday night ended in applause and cheers, as officials announced administrative changes and reflected on teacher achievement.
Among administrative updates was the board’s renewal of YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth’s contract through 2023 – and his announcement of another key staff change.
“So, I’d like to say thank you for renewing my contract, and I’d like to announce Desarae Witmer as the new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction,” Simeroth said.
Simeroth joined Yukon Public Schools in 2014. Earlier this year he was named 2019 Oklahoma Association of School Administrators’ District 14 Superintendent of the Year.
Witmer joined YPS in 2017, after working as Oklahoma Education Department’s office of school support executive director for two years.
Before that, she served as Oklahoma City Public Schools as secondary education and reform associate director.
Witmer also worked for Edmond Public Schools as a principal and assistant principal for almost 15 years, after teaching and coaching in Putnam City and Texas.
Board Member Resigns
With candidate filing ongoing for two YPS Board of Education seats up for election in 2020, one member has confirmed he will not seek to retain his seat and a second member is publicly undecided.
A third member’s resignation from the five-member board was announced during Monday night’s meeting.
Vice President Jeff Behymer did not attend the Monday meeting during which his resignation was made public. Officials said Monday he resigned due to a move that made him ineligible.
Behymer had served on the board since July 2016.
With his resignation, the confirmation by Post No. 5 member Rex VanMeter he would not file for that seat in 2020 and Office No. 3’s Chris Cunningham on the fence concerning his position, that left just two confirmed school board members heading into 2020 as of press time – President Leonard Wells and Board Clerk Suzanne Cannon.
Filing for the YPS Post 3 and 5 seats continues through Wednesday.
Lakeview Elementary School fifth-grade math and science teacher Gena Barnhill was congratulated during Monday’s school board meeting for her selection as one of four Oklahoma educators to receive Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Established in 1983, the award is the highest an educator can receive for science or math instruction, officials said. Barnhill recently attended an awards ceremony at National Science Foundation; she also received $10,000, she said.
“It really made me reflective as a teacher,” Barnhill told BOE members. “I’m humbled by my fellow teachers every single day.”
Also recognized was Clayton Cannon, 2019 Oklahoma Council for the Social Studies Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Simeroth said Cannon and Barnhill reflected Yukon teachers and staff as a whole.
“These kinds of achievements are illustrations of what our people do from every level,” the superintendent said.