Yukon’s Rookie Teacher of the Year credits cohorts

Hodge refers to ‘collective effort’ among YHS educators

Yukon High School English teacher Hannah Hodge is beyond thrilled after learning she was selected as Yukon Public Schools’ Rookie Teacher of the Year. A University of Oklahoma graduate, Hodge has taught in Yukon since August 2020. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

“I’m honored, but this really is a collective award,” Hannah Hodge said. “I thank my coworkers for nominating me and seeing that I try my best.

“They see the value in me. It’s really nice to feel that camaraderie among your cohorts and administration alike.”

Hodge, who teaches English to Yukon’s ninth and 10th graders, was speaking about the honor of becoming Yukon Public Schools’ “Rookie Teacher of the Year.”

She was selected by her peers for this prestigious district-wide award.

The Yukon school district’s Rookie Teacher of the Year program recognizes teachers with less than three years of experience who “exemplify innovative teaching and dedication to the profession.”

Nominees should demonstrate “outstanding teaching qualities” recognized by YPS.

A University of Oklahoma graduate, Hodge started teaching at Yukon High School in August 2020. She was named Yukon’s Rookie Teacher of the Year in her final year of eligibility.

The Norman native knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was 15. Hodge cited the positive influence of English teachers she had at Longfellow Middle School and Norman North High School.

“They had such an impact on me,” she shared. “They were so calm and empathetic.

“I became an English teacher because I love hearing people’s stories and about their backgrounds. You really get to experience that in the English setting.”

In December 2019, Hodge earned her bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from OU.

While in OU’s Department of Education, Hodge completed her student teaching at Norman High School under Elizabeth Hoggatt.

She credited her OU professors, specifically Crag Hill and Benjamin Heddy, for their feedback and guidance.

YHS English teacher Hannah Hodge is congratulated by YHS administrators and fellow educators: From left, Michael Perez, Steve Hunt, Vicki Kesler, Hodge, Head Principal Melissa Barlow, Lisa Megli, and Rebecca Reape-Middaugh. Hodge called the “Rookie of the Year” honor a “collective award” because of support she receives from her coworkers. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)


Hodge was attracted to the Yukon school district, because of the highly competitive pay for starting teachers along with the “community and school values” at YHS.

“I did apply for several positions, but Yukon was at the top of my list,” she pointed out.

The YPS Rookie Teacher of the Year can’t think of a better place to be than at Yukon High.

“I love my team,” Hodge said. “I love the administration. Everyone here is so open and understanding.

“I feel honored to be recognized and represent our community. But this is a collective effort.”

She offered special thanks to her YHS “teacher mom” Patty Schantz and official “mentor” Renee Ward, along with her parents Misty and Lenny Hodge and her aunt Karen Tikhonoff.

Every day is different in Hodge’s high school classroom.

She especially enjoys teaching – and relating – to ninth and 10th graders.

“You don’t get bored with the students,” Hodge shared. “You can talk to them because they are budding adults. So, you can really treat them with respect, and they will – in turn – give it back to you. It’s also fun and they can joke around.

“It’s just a nice balance of being able to relate to them as human beings because they are soon-to-be adults. But they still have that child-like innocence of wonder and awe and stories.”

When YPS administrators entered her classroom to present her the award, Hodge was “totally elated” – and shocked.

“It’s great to be recognized and feel appreciated!” she said.

Yukon Public Schools’ district administrators congratulate Rookie Teacher of the Year Hannah Hodge: From left, Executive Director of Elementary Education Lance Haggard, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jason Brunk, Executive Director of Secondary Education Diana Lebsack, Hodge, Assistant Superintendent Desarae Witmer, and Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)