Oklahoma’s 2019 Teacher of the Year will be on the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Alva campus Feb. 19 to speak at “Why Serve,” an event to highlight the importance of service through teaching with the goal of inspiring those in attendance to consider a career in teaching.
Becky Oglesby, who teaches Pre-K through third grade art at Ranchwood Elementary in Yukon, will make a presentation during a lunch in the Student Center Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, and other administrators at the university also will be participating at the lunch.
Others invited to attend this event are Teach Oklahoma students from the Alva, Enid and Woodward high schools, as well as students from surrounding high schools who are interested in becoming teachers.
Dr. Christee Jenlink, associate dean of education and professor of education, said that Oklahoma is facing a critical shortage of qualified teachers, so this event with young people is important in helping to address this issue.
Prior to the lunch program, Jenlink said that the high school students will gather in the Education Center to participate in workshops developed by Northwestern’s teacher education faculty and teacher candidates.
“The workshops will provide hands-on learning experiences that simulate teacher preparation classes,” Jenlink said. “The simulations, in conjunction with the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year’s speech on the topic of ‘Why Serve,’ are intended to be motivation for students to choose a career in teaching.”
Oglesby, who is known in her school and community as the “Batman Teacher” for the abundance of comic-book memorabilia she has in her classroom, began her full-time Teacher of the Year duties on July 1, 2019. Her duties include speaking engagements throughout the state and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has said that Oglesby’s creative teaching style, along with her optimism and passion for education, is a model of excellence for Oklahoma.
“Becky is a teacher who does not falter, no matter the circumstances,” Hofmeister said. “She demonstrates compassion and courage, and treasures her students, never failing to celebrate the individuality of each one. Often, our teachers are literal heroes. Becky Oglesby is proof of that.”
Oglesby was a second-year teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary in 2013 when a deadly EF-5 tornado tore through the Moore school and claimed the lives of seven students. At the height of the storm, she used her body to shield her first graders as the twister destroyed the school.
As an art teacher, Oglesby incorporates core subject areas, provides the opportunity for students to express their uniqueness, emphasizes state academic standards and provides life lessons.
“My greatest contribution to education has been showing the world that teachers are more than babysitters worried about test scores,” Oglesby said. “Your kids become our kids, and our priority is to create a safe learning environment where they can flourish.”
This “Why Serve” event is made possible through a grant received by the Division of Education from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.