Pawhuska Public Schools has named its Honor Teachers for the 2019-20 academic year for the four schools in the district. School officials anticipate the district’s Teacher of the Year will be named in February from among the four school-level honorees.
Honor teachers for 2019-20 include Sharon Hendren at Indian Camp Elementary School, Penny Oller at Pawhuska Elementary School, Jodi Culver at Pawhuska Junior High, and Jan Yang at Pawhuska High School. They recently received plaques from the Pawhuska Board of Education, in recognition of having been chosen as the district’s outstanding faculty members for the year.
Hendren has 39 years of teaching experience, 17 in Pawhuska Public Schools. She is a graduate of Northeastern State University and serves on the Healthy, Fit and Safe School Committee at Indian Camp Elementary.
Hendren says getting and keeping her students’ attention is critical to making sure they are learning.
“To make learning relevant to the students you have to find some ‘emotional hook’ that you can draw them in and help them see the value in what you are teaching,” Hendren said in a document related to her nomination for the Honor Teacher designation. “I monitor students while we work together and during independent practice. With young children you have to make it fun sometimes. I use brain breaks throughout the day to help them re-energize and decompress.”
Oller has 35 years of teaching experience, 33 of them in Pawhuska Public Schools. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, and says that her desire to be a teacher originated in her youth, when she loved school and loved her teachers.
Culver has 16 years of teaching experience, all of them in Pawhuska Public Schools. She is a graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, and said in a document related to her nomination for the Honor Teacher designation that the award validates the hard work and sacrifices that educators make. Culver changed careers after 16 years in the medical field, and said she loves it when the lessons that she teaches are related to real-life experiences and her students are engaged in their learning experience.
“I am not a traditional methods teacher, nor do I stick to the textbook,” Culver said. “I am always looking for creative ways to teach and to make materials accessible to all students.”
Yang explained in her nomination materials that she was a housekeeper 30 years ago and never dreamed of being a teacher in the United States. She couldn’t even speak English then. She went back to school, however, and eventually became a National Board Certified Teacher. For the past 10 years, she has been an assessor for the National Board.
Yang teaches math, and finds that all students can learn math, particularly if they develop the habit of learning from their mistakes.