State school leader spends day in Pawhuska

Nathan ThompsonJournal-Capital
State school leader spends day in Pawhuska

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister spent the day Friday touring Pawhuska Public School facilities and meeting with students, teachers, administrators and community members.

According to Hofmeister, the visit allowed her to connect with teachers and the community to better understand the issues that are impacting the local area.

“I have the opportunity to build relationships and understand some of the unique circumstances that districts are dealing with. As I travel, I begin to have a greater appreciation of common needs,” Hofmeister said. “It is my goal to be able to take those stories back to the State Capitol where I want to be able to represent the needs of students and tell the story through the eyes of a teacher.”

The day began at Indian Camp Elementary School where Hofmeister visited classrooms and interacted with the elementary students. She was able to see first-hand some of the techniques that are used for the early years of education. Indian Camp Elementary serves students from pre-K to second grade.

Hofmeister said she was particularly impressed with the reading techniques that are being used in the school. The techniques are part of the Literacy First program.

“All of these teachers are so dedicated to doing what they can to ensure success,” Hofmeister said.

The tour of the school district continued with stops at Pawhuska High School and Pawhuska Elementary School where Hofmeister was able to observe and meet with students and teachers across many specialties including mathematics, language arts, social studies and an art class.

The tour of the district was led by Pawhuska Superintendent Dr. Landon Berry.

“I’ve never seen a state superintendent get down on the floor with kindergarten students and actually have an interaction with them for about 10 to 15 minutes,” Berry said. “I think we have someone in office that cares about kids and cares about teachers. She wants to see things change in a positive way.”

Hofmeister also met with community members at the Pawhuska Community Center for approximately an hour. She was joined by Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, and Rep. Steve Vaughan, R-Ponca City at the meeting.

Several superintendents who are a part of the Osage County Interlocal Cooperative also met with Hofmeister to discuss concerns ranging from state funding, current legislation that is being debated at the State Capitol and local concerns for rural school districts.

Hofmeister ended the day Friday by meeting with Pawhuska teachers for more than an hour to discuss several topics on hand. According to Hofmeister, the visit helps her connect with the local teachers and to show that she really wants to be engaged with concerns that affect them.

“It is certainly encouraging to see that the teachers are appreciative of the visit,” Hofmeister said. “I love being able to observe students with my own eyes and be able to thank teachers for the role that they play. I think right now that it is important that teachers understand how much they are appreciated by me and the entire Oklahoma education community.”