Educator Currents - "Mentoring Rewards"



Mentoring rewards

For one hour every week, Stanley Hupfeld visits the elementary school in Oklahoma City that now bears his name to hang out with the boy he mentors. Next year, Hupfeld wants to start teaching the second-grader chess, but, for now, they play checkers and talk about geography.

“I’ve often said it’s the best hour I spend all week,” said Hupfeld, former president and CEO of INTEGRIS Health.

Mentors started coming to Stanley Hupfeld Academy at Western Village more than a decade ago, back when it was still called Western Village Elementary. Today, it has more than 300 mentors. They are community members with all kinds of backgrounds. Some are students themselves, and about a third work for INTEGRIS.

“Our goal is to have a mentor for every student in Stanley Hupfeld Academy,” said Academy director Tobi Campbell.

Oklahoma has more than 100 mentoring and leadership programs that reach countless schools and students, according to the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence (OFE), which helps to establish mentoring programs in schools across the state through its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative.

Mentors provide a stable source of support for students who might not get that at home. They can tutor kids who need academic help, or they can lend a sympathetic ear. By simply visiting with a child for an hour a week, mentors leave a lasting and positive impression.

Bernard Jones, who works with prosthetics at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, is in his eighth year as a mentor at Stanley Hupfeld Academy. He was skeptical when he first heard about the program, afraid it would amount to babysitting. 

It didn’t take long to change his mind.

“It’s something I look forward to every week. The kids look forward to seeing me every week,” Jones said.

The program at Stanley Hupfeld Academy is one branch of the Positive Directions mentoring program, which INTEGRIS operates in communities with its hospitals. Each mentor is matched to a single student whom he or she hopefully will stick with until that student graduates to the next school.

What to do with the weekly hour is up to mentors and mentees. Jones said the first 30 minutes of his sessions typically are devoted to study time, but he leaves at least 15 minutes to play games or talk.

“As they get to know you, they get a little looser and start to share their life stories with you,” he said.

Mentoring programs in Oklahoma have been started at all levels of schools by a range of organizations, including colleges, churches, nonprofits and businesses.

In Tulsa's Kendall-Whittier Elementary School roughly 70 students stay until 6 p.m. every day, spending time with their mentors. The youth mentoring program was started off-site by a neighborhood nonprofit in 2003. In 2011 it became part of the University of Tulsa's True Blue Neighbors initiative and was moved into the school building with help from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

"We've really seen tremendous growth in our ability to serve students and parents in this neighborhood," said Director Danielle Hovenga, who moved with the program.

Although the program is free, participants must apply to join. Every kid gets a healthy after-school snack, takes a break for playtime, then spends an hour working on academics with a mentor. Half of that hour is spent on literacy, Hovenga said.

Although mentors come from all across the community, many are associated with the university, she said. Some faculty and staff volunteer, and students can use it as a work-study job or for academic credit in some classes.

Being able to operate the mentoring program from inside the building has led to better coordination with teachers, and the school staff gets to see the mentoring program in action, she said.

For Hupfeld, mentoring fits perfectly with his hospital’s mission of keeping people healthy. Mentors help to create a healthier and smarter community. That’s why INTEGRIS has offered time off and rewards for employees in the program from the beginning.

Beverly Woodrome, director of the mentoring initiative at OFE, said there are too many kinds of successful mentoring initiatives around the state to suggest one model is better than others. In one town, a mentoring program was launched by a local banker who simply recognized a need. In bigger cities, large corporations sometimes hire staff solely to run their mentoring programs.

There is one basic ingredient both Woodrome and Hupfeld cited. First, both the school and the organization providing mentors need to be dedicated to the program and provide designated leaders on both ends.

Mentors range from top-level executives to, in one case, a school custodian. The more careers and backgrounds represented, the better, Woodrome said.

“I think sometimes we overlook people who could be inspirational,” she said.

She shared that message at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 15, during OFE’s “Oklahoma Mentor Day."

TOY travels, speaks

Peter Markes

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Peter Markes has been busy over the past few months. He gave talks at universities in every corner of the state and dropped in on orchestra programs to conduct and observe. Now he’s also blogging.

“I still spend one to two hours daily administrating my own Edmond North orchestra program, and I envisioned the Teacher of the Year schedule to be much, much busier. I am hopeful that the spring semester will see a renaissance of the OKTOY program, now restored to full funding,” Markes wrote in his first blog post.

Markes was named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year in September, just as he started his 12th year directing the orchestras at Edmond North High School. He’s excited to talk about teaching and leadership in all classrooms, and he hopes to create an outline of “best practices” for orchestra programs based on what he learns on the road.

The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year has a car and will travel. Click here for an application if you want to arrange a visit.

Check out the all-new Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Blog here:

Two OK teachers honored nationally

Huett and Reece

Two Oklahoma elementary school teachers are among 102 teachers nationwide recently honored with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The teachers, both of whom had been nominated by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, are Annette Huett, who teaches fourth grade at Kelley Elementary in Moore; and Diane Reece, who taught kindergarten at Bokoshe Public School in LeFlore County.

Ms. Reece died of leukemia on Dec. 4. She was 61.

Reece’s two daughters, both of whom followed in their mother’s footsteps by becoming schoolteachers, said the recognition is bittersweet.

“Mom had an exceptional passion for the classroom and students,” said Kris Williams, who teaches in the same district where her mother worked for 36 years.

“She strived to bring great learning opportunities to students, whether it was exciting hands-on activities, trips to local theater performances or completing class service projects. Mom was extraordinary in all areas of life and made a lasting impact on many.”

Reece’s other daughter, Kassandra Lovell, teaches science in Spiro.

“She went above and beyond to teach subjects in a creative way that inspired others. She knew that many times, a child's first experience with school took place in her kindergarten class,” Lovell said.

“She wanted students to be excited about learning and realize that learning could be fun. Helping to create lifelong learners and making the world a better place were important to her."

Huett, a 23-year veteran of the classroom, said she was deeply honored by the recognition.

“It reaffirms my instructional style and hopefully inspires hands-on teaching,” she said. “I would like to thank Moore Public Schools for their support, especially my principal and coworkers. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said Reece and Huett were highly deserving of the Presidential Award for Excellence.

“Oklahoma children are blessed to have had the likes of Diane Reece and Annette Huett in the classroom. Diane’s passing is tragic and leaves a hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved her, but the considerable impact of her life — a life devoted to education and to strengthening her community — will shine on in the minds of all the young people who had the privilege of being her pupils.

“Similarly, the influence of Annette Huett on her students is beyond measure. These teachers have instilled so many young children with a love of learning, and that lesson in itself is of immense value.”

Bestowed annually to K-12 science and math teachers across the nation, the honor comes with a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a number of celebrations.

State Education Department officials are currently working with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching at the National Science Foundation to ensure that Ms. Reece will be properly honored.



OK scholars deadline


The Oklahoma Academic Scholars program recognizes outstanding academic achievement of graduating seniors. Oklahoma Academic Scholars will be presented a certificate of distinction from the state and their local high schools. A gold seal will be affixed to their diplomas and the honor will be recorded on their official transcripts. Graduating seniors must meet all of the following criteria to qualify for this honor:

  • Accumulate over Grades 9, 10, 11 and the first semester of Grade 12, a minimum grade point average of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale, or be in the top 10 percent of their class.
  • Complete (or will complete) the curricular requirements for a standard diploma.
  • Achieve a 27 composite score on the ACT or 1220 combined reading and mathematics score on the SAT I. The ACT or SAT I must have been taken on a national test date.

You will be able to report the names of qualifying seniors via the Single Sign On System from January through March 3, 2014. You will see the report listed after signing into the system.

You will need to report via the Single Sign On System even if you do not have any qualifying seniors. All high schools must report to ensure all students are recognized that have met the requirements mentioned above.

Your school will be mailed certificates and gold seals for the diploma by April 11, 2014, and the names of qualifying seniors will be shared with the news media.

Thank you for your assistance in recognizing outstanding Oklahoma high school seniors! If you have questions or concerns, contact me at (405) 521-4287.

-Dir. Timmie L. Spangler, Gifted and Talented Education

Order ACCESS for ELL

The Title III window for ACCESS for ELLs test ordering began this month and the deadline to have the tests ordered from Metri-Tech is Jan. 30.

The phone number for Metri-Tech is 1-800-747-4868.

To see all the important ACCESS for ELL dates visit:



From the Superintendent's Desk: Fostering Good Character

State Superintendent Janet Barresi writes about the importance of teaching our kids good character traits. She recently hosted the first meeting of the Character Education Task Force, which brings together leaders from schools, communities, religious groups and parent organizations to talk about teaching character. Read the column here:


Sign up for the REAC3H Summit

Embassy Suites, Norman, Feb. 19, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Click the image below or follow this link to register:

REAC3H Summit
C3 Logo

Attend REAC3H Regionals

Join the Oklahoma State Department of Education Curriculum Directors as they give an in-depth analysis of the Oklahoma Academic Standards. Participants will take away a better understanding of what the standards ask students to do, significant shifts in standards and strategies they can effectively implement into their curriculum and teaching practices.

Upcoming dates:

  • Feb. 3 – Stillwater, Oklahoma State University’s Student Union (Region 2)
  • Feb. 7 – Ardmore, Ardmore Middle School (Region 6)
  • Feb. 25 – Weatherford, High School Performing Arts Center (Region 1)
  • March 4 – OKC, Metro Technology: Springlake Campus (Region 8)


Session descriptions sorted by subject:

Learn about AVID

AVID is a "college readiness system" that aims to improve student performance through specialized classes, plans and professional development.

Do you want to know more about AVID? Are you considering implementing it in your school? 

Learn about process to apply for AVID grants, the philosophical approach of the program, required training, what WICOR means and how to organize an AVID Effective Class in this new presentation created by the OSDE's Advanced Placement department. The presentation is just over an hour long and is presented through the free WebEx application.

Click here to view the presentation.



Financial Workshop

The Oklahoma Association of School Business Officials (OkASBO) is once again hosting a series of Financial Accounting Workshops. Space is limited, and the deadline to register is Friday, Feb. 14.

Conferences are scheduled to be held in Clinton Feb. 25, Oklahoma City Feb. 26 and 27, and Muskogee March 4 and 5. There is an $85 fee to register. Payment should be sent to OkASBO, P.O. Box 549, Claremore, Okla. 74018.

Each workshop lasts a full workday. This is your chance to brush up on: laws, purpose and proper use of codes in the Oklahoma Coast Accounting system; financial management of child nutrition programs, federal programs and special education programs; reporting requirements and changes to school personnel records; and the auditing process, end-of-year processing, OSDE rules for treasurers and ethics in financial accounting. Several OSDE employees will be presenting.

Contact information:

Video Contest: Workplace Safety

The Oklahoma Department of Labor wants high school students to stay safe at work. This year’s “Speak Out for Workplace Safety PSA Video Contest” combines classroom instruction with filmmaking to make that message stick.

In order to participate, teachers must teach two 45-min. detailed lesson plans on safety and health before students make their videos. All teaching materials are available for free online. The material is flexible and, in addition to preparing students for the workforce, can be mixed with other curriculum.

Three winners will receive an iPad and one runner-up will get a $250 gift card. The deadline to enter is March 7, 2014.

For materials, rules, past videos and to apply visit

Tech. competition seeks ideas

A global competition is calling for students to use their STEM knowledge and find “A Solution to Pollution.” Registration is open for the annual Clean Tech Competition now through March 7.

Teams of 1-3 students, ages 15-18, can enter the contest with an adult sponsor by selecting an issue that poses a threat to people, economies or the environment and engineering a solution. Participants can upload their analysis of and solution to the problem on Clean Tech’s website. If their project is chosen to move onto the next round, they will receive a stipend and a mentor to build a prototype, which they will show in the final round in New York City.

The Clean Tech Competition is organized by the Center for Science Teaching and Learning. Registration is free. 

More info:

Medical Internship for H.S. Seniors

High School seniors can apply now to participate alongside college students in the 2014 Fleming Scholar Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). The application deadline is Feb. 1.

Over the summer Fleming Scholars work with OMRF scientists on medical research projects. After spending eight weeks studying things like cancer, lupus and heart disease, they write papers and present their findings to OMRF researchers.

 The program is open to Oklahoma residents who are at least 16 years old. Scholars receive payment and free housing.

 To apply visit


Stay Connected


TV Show Features 2013 OKTOY

"The Ignite Show," an online video program produced by Georgia Public Television with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year featured 2013 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Elaine Hutchison in a November episode. Go inside her classroom and watch it here: