From Staff Reports
Yukon Public Schools officials have announced the 2020-2021 site Teachers of the Year. The teachers for each school are featured in bios from Yukon Public Schools. In April, the district officials will announce an overall district Teacher of the Year.
Here are reports on each of the school site teachers selected.
YUKON HIGH SCHOOL: PATTY SHANTZ
Shantz has been awarded the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Yukon High School. 2020-2021 is Patty’s 20th year in education and her 5th year in Yukon. She teaches senior English IV at Yukon High School. Her prior teaching experience was in Chickasha, where she taught English I, Pre AP English I, and AP Literature and Composition. Additionally, Patty was the 2007 Teacher of the Year for Chickasha High School.
Patty is a proud graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, where she graduated with honors. She has attended numerous trainings and workshops through the years and considers herself a lifelong learner.
A visitor to Patty’s classroom will see numerous lighthouses. Patty’s love for lighthouses is symbolic of her teaching as she sees herself as a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.” She believes her role as a senior teacher is to help prepare students for their next step and support students whether they are going to college, to a training program, to the military, or to work.
Patty’s educational career began in Yukon as a student teacher to Mrs. Joyce Thionnet at the 9/10 building 20 years ago. She is thrilled to be back in Yukon and finds Yukon to be just the right place at this point in her career. Patty and her husband, Delmar, have a blended family of 7 children and are currently raising their 15-year-old grandson.
YUKON MIDDLE SCHOOL: PAM CHARVAT
Charvat has been awarded the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Yukon Middle School.
Pam teaches 8th Grade Pre-Algebra. She has been teaching for 8 years, all at Yukon Middle School.
Pam (Rischard) Charvat is a graduate of Yukon High School, class of 1981. She received a degree at the University of Oklahoma while also serving in the Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps. Upon graduation, Pam entered active duty as a commissioned officer and completed 20 years of military service. In 2006, Pam and her family settled in her hometown, Yukon. Following work in human resource management and civil service with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pam obtained her teaching certification through Troops to Teachers Program. “I missed servicing my community and felt teaching was a profession that would fit my skills and allow me to give back to the community”. Her mother, Kay Rischard, is a retired teacher from Yukon Public Schools, so Pam is carrying on her mother’s legacy.
Mrs. Charvat is passionate about mathematics. She works to instill mathematical fluency as well as practical applications in her teaching. “Many students come to my class feeling they are not a ‘math person’, so building confidence and efficacy is an important element in my classroom.” For Pam, the most rewarding part of the job is seeing students interact with math and in the student’s words “getting it”. Pam also emphasizes citizenship and responsibility. She defines success to her students as: Be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there, doing what you are supposed to be doing.
Pam has a degree in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and recently completed a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in Teaching with Technology.
When she first started teaching, she recognized a couple things: the importance technology would play in the classroom and the need for quantitative data to measure and improve student learning. Mrs. Charvat assists her fellow teachers with technology and finds innovative ways to solve problems. “This past year has brought the importance of technology in education to the forefront of a national discussion, and at Yukon Middle School we are committed to delivering quality instruction through teamwork and continuous improvement.”
INDEPENDENCE INTERMEDIATE: SANDY WINN
The 2020-2021 Independence Intermediate Teacher of the Year has been awarded to Mrs. Sandy Winn. Sandy is in her third year of teaching 4th grade at Independence Intermediate School. She has thirty years of experience in education, having taught at Sayre Public Schools for twenty-seven years before moving to Yukon. Her prior teaching experience includes one year as a biology teacher, three years as an eighth grade ELA teacher, four years as a Title I Reading Specialist, 19 years as a fourth and fifth grade Science teacher, and she served 13 years as a Gifted Education Sponsor.
Sandy graduated with honors from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. She holds a certification in Elementary Education. Mrs. Winn serves on the District Professional Development Committee, the IIS Title I Committee, the IIS Advisory Committee, and is a teacher representative for the Independence Intermediate PTO. She also serves as the 4th grade room monitor on the volunteer morning duty roster.
Sandy says she doesn’t consider teaching to be a job, but rather a continuation of life-long learning. “I feel so fortunate to work with students each and every day. If I can make a positive impact on the lives of children, then I will consider my career a success.” She believes that getting to know her students both inside and outside of the classroom and making those connections is paramount in educating children. “When connections are made, kids will do everything in their power to be a success in the classroom.”
After her husband, Todd Winn, retired following a 30-year career in public education and took a job with the ODOC Education Department in Oklahoma City, Sandy said the only district she applied at was Yukon. “No other district in Oklahoma compares to Yukon, and everyone in the state uses Yukon Public Schools as a model for implementing new and innovative programs. After interviewing at Independence, I knew this is where I wanted to be.” “Yukon is a wonderful mix of large city conveniences and small-town values, making it a perfect fit for our family. The community is second-to-none and supports the school system in a way that is rarely heard of in larger districts.”
Sandy and Todd have two children, whom are both educators, and four precious grandchildren ranging in age from one to four. “Needless to say, we stay really busy, but we also get lots of hugs and kisses to keep us going!”
LAKEVIEW INTERMEDIATE: TARYN ELLIS
Ellis has been named the 2020-2021 Site Teacher of the Year at Lakeview Intermediate School. Mrs. Ellis has been teaching for six years, and five of those years have been at Lakeview teaching fifth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies. Before coming to Yukon, Taryn taught third grade for one year at Newcastle Public Schools, and was also an assistant coach for the Newcastle High School Girls Basketball State Champions.
Mrs. Ellis graduated from her hometown college of Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She is certified in Elementary Education. Taryn leads a professional learning community at Lakeview for the fifth grade English Language Arts/Social Studies Team, and also serves as a member of the Leadership Team at her site. Mrs. Ellis enjoys doing crosswalk duty every morning before school as well. She is a member of the Yukon Professional Education Association and currently holds the position of treasurer.
Mrs. Ellis comes from a long line of educators. Her grandmother, along with both parents, and her two older brothers are all in the educational field. She knew at a very young age that teaching was something she wanted to do, she said Her favorite part about teaching is building relationships with her students. She loves getting to know them on a personal level where they feel comfortable coming to her with any issues they may have, or just being “their person.”
Mrs. Ellis says that teaching in Yukon is not “just a job”. She also claims that she has learned much more in her time here than she thought was possible. “I love coming to school every day and feeling validated. We have an incredible staff family at Lakeview and that all starts with great leadership. I love my job, my amazing teammates, and my loving students.”
Mrs. Ellis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jacob Ellis. They both graduated from Alva High School. They say they love it here in Yukon and are pleased to announce that they are expecting their first child in May; a baby boy. The couple is excited to raise him and watch him grow in the wonderful community of Yukon.
REDSTONE INTERMEDIATE: MELODIE BUCHER
Bucher was awarded the honor of being Redstone Intermediate’s Inaugural Teacher of the Year in 2020-21. This is Mrs. Bucher’s fourth year teaching special education in Yukon, but it is her 16th year in education. Her first three years with Yukon were spent at Independence Elementary. Then, at the beginning of this school year, she had the privilege of moving to Redstone and being a part of opening the new school building. Prior to her time in Yukon, Mrs. Bucher taught 11 years at Wiley Post Elementary in Putnam City Public Schools where she spent five years teaching second grade before moving to special education for the next six years. Additionally, she spent her first year in the classroom teaching third grade on the island of Saipan, which is a commonwealth of the United States.
Melodie graduated from Southern Nazarene University with her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She returned to school and attended Olivet Nazarene University where she earned her Masters of Arts in Education: Reading Specialist. Melodie currently holds certifications in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Reading Specialist. Melodie has served the educational community in a variety of ways over the years. She was a member of the Dyslexia Task Force and Tiered Behavior Support Committee in her previous district. She also played an integral role in a previous school applying for and receiving the Oklahoma Tiered Intervention System of Support Grant. After coming to Yukon, she served on the Special Education Steering Committee her first year in the district. She is continuing to lead her colleagues within her building as the lead special education teacher and building representative.
Mrs. Bucher has always had a heart for children, so it was no surprise that adoption became a passion for her family. The real surprise came when her family decided that part of that journey included adopting a student. “If you aren’t in it for the kids, there is no way you can stay in it. Not that everyone has to go so far as taking a student into their family and home, but every child deserves to have a cheerleader, champion, and coach.”
Melodie married into a family of teachers and is proud to carry the torch for those who have come before her and her husband, Bryan.
He also works in Yukon Public Schools as the district’s instructional math coach and virtual elementary school administrator. They have five children. Austin, David, and Will proudly attend Yukon Public Schools, and they look forward to sending their twin girls, Macie and Maddie, to Yukon schools as well someday.
“Many of us got into teaching because we wanted to make a difference, and hopefully we are, but if you really stop to reflect on your time in the classroom and with kids, you realize that it is the kids who are making the difference in us if we let them. My students are the reason I am the teacher I am today, and I am confident that today’s students will teach me things that will make me a better teacher for the students of tomorrow.”
CENTRAL ELEMENTARY: RYANN BURNER
Burner has been awarded the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Central Elementary School. This is Ryann’s eighth year teaching kindergarten at Central. During her time at Central she has not only taught kindergarten. She has also taught two and a half years of special education kindergarten. Ryann had an unconventional start to her student teaching experience and she actually was hired at Central to start teaching her own class in lieu of having a semester of student teaching.
Ryann has been a Yukon Miller since her kindergarten year at Skyview Elementary and then later graduated from Yukon High School. She then obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2013 and obtained her Special Education certification in 2015. Ryann is member of many different committees at Central from Leadership Team, OETT Grant Recipient Team, Site SeeSaw Representative, and the Math Curriculum Team.
Ms. Burner says teaching is her greatest passion in life.
“I truly believe that people are called to become educators and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to help each student develop a love for learning and build lasting relationships with my students and their families.” Ryann is completed humbled and honored to receive this award and have the opportunity to represent Central Elementary.
Editor’s Note: Teachers at each of the Yukon Public Schools 12 sites have been selected as Teacher of the Year. An overall winner will be announced in April. Here are stories and photographs of six of the 12 teachers from the Yukon school sites. Read The Yukon Progress for stories on the other six soon.