SDE: Supt. Barresi's Regular Newspaper Column

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From the Superintendent's Desk

EDITORS: Below is State Superintendent Janet Barresi’s newspaper column for May 4, 2012. View her latest video message. 

Appreciating Teachers

By Janet Barresi, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kristin Shelby, Oklahoma’s 2012 Teacher of the Year, says she went into teaching because she’s always wanted to encourage and inspire others to do their best.

“What better profession to make a difference in students lives than a teacher,” she said.

In my travels across the state I’ve encountered many great teachers.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit Shelby in her hometown of Hollis, in the far Southwestern corner of the state. Her enthusiasm excites and motivates her students as she spurs them to read, experiment and build on their knowledge in each lesson. And Shelby’s not alone. I was pleased to find that all of the teachers in Hollis show the same passion and dedication to their craft.

In the far southeastern corner of the state, in Howe, teachers are using technology to take their students beyond the walls of their classrooms. First-graders are blogging. High-school students are working as teams using project based learning, competing to develop the best ideas to improve their school.

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week and I hope you will all join me in celebrating each of the wonderful teachers who tirelessly serve the children in our schools. 

Teachers are known for their dedication, their hard work, for going the extra mile, for sacrificial giving, for caring and loving the children entrusted to them. They can make learning interesting, fun and exciting.

Please take this opportunity to say thank you to your child’s teachers or maybe even connect with your former teachers who helped shape the course of your life. Write a note, send a card, bake some cookies, take a fruit basket, buy some books or some supplies for the classroom – there are multiple ways to show your gratitude for the lasting gift of instilling a love of learning.

As part of this special week, the Oklahoma State Department of Education wants to gather stories from all Oklahomans about favorite teachers. We'll gather the best stories and short voice mail recordings and share them. Post a message here.

The State Department of Education also is taking nominations now for the 2013 Teacher of the Year. Any District Teacher of the Year is eligible to apply. Find an application packet at I want to encourage all eligible teachers to apply for the chance to be recognized by their peers and to be rewarded with some fabulous prizes.

Finally, I would like to single out a special group of educators. Woodward and Fargo received extensive damage from recent tornadoes. More importantly, they have lost children and a parent. In addition, some teachers lost their homes or received severe damage to their homes. Yet those teachers continue on in their work. These brave and dedicated professionals need to be recognized for their work and all of their sacrifice. They are all in my thoughts and prayers. I would like to especially express my gratitude to them during this important week when we honor all teachers in the state.

For more information, contact Damon Gardenhire, State Department of Education, (405) 310-9323,, or Tricia Pemberton, (405) 521-3371, (405) 431-7195,