Professional Oklahoma Educators host history day; affiliated foundation honors “excellent educators”
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Published: 22-Apr-2011

Professional Oklahoma Educators (POE) is sponsoring “day of history” at the Oklahoma History Center next Friday (April 29).

The event will focus, organizers said, “on America’s rich history.” A workshop on the day of history will feature Dr. David Barton, and Oklahoma’s own Dr. Rufus Fears. Dr. Barton is the morning speaker, while Dr. Fears will address the group after lunch. 

Ginger Tinney, executive director of POE, told CapitolBeatOK, “Professional development credit hours will be given to teachers who participate, and breakfast and lunch are included in the registration fee.”

Online registration is here and must be completed by Tuesday, April 26.

Activities run from 9 am. to 2 p.m., with on-site registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. The “day of history” is at Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73105. Cost for non-members is $65, while POE members will be charged $50.

The affiliated POE Foundation awards banquet was held recently in Olahoma City. 

Master of ceremonies for the 2011 event was radio journalist Reid Mullins, known for his popular morning program on radio station KTOK. Mullins has said that although he came from a family of educators and taught for a time at Oklahoma City Community College, he “sought a career path with lower pay and significantly less security,” and chose broadcasting instead.

Mullins sketched the group’s history, noting it was “established in 1988 as a non-union, professional organization that puts the needs of students first.  More than two decades later, those principles still define the organization. Professional Oklahoma Educators is committed to advancing education in this wonderful state through integrity, professionalism, and excellence.”

The foundation emerged “in 1998 to work alongside Professional Oklahoma Educators by funding charitable activities, including this banquet, leadership training services, and a variety of seminars and workshops. Two years ago, the POE Foundation created the Memorial Fund to honor loved ones, as well as the Disaster Relief Fund to aid schools and teachers on a case-by-case basis who suffer from natural disasters.”

Mullins said the annual dinner honors “educators who have achieved excellence in education -- educators who have displayed commitment, dedication and passion in their work. The teaching profession involves so much more than just imparting information to students. It’s about creating a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn which will stay with them for life. It’s about motivating them, encouraging them, and bringing the facts and figures of the academic world to life in a way that will truly impact each student.”

Tinney and Mullins joined forces to recognize Tom Hill, founder of Character First and Chairman of the Board at Kimray for his service to the business world and the community. Hill spoke on the principles of “Character First” and expressed appreciation for the classroom teachers and education staff in attendance. 

Highlighting the evening was the “Excellence in Education Merit Awards.” 

Mullins reflected, “Each person who works around children has the opportunity to influence them in a positive way. … It is not just a classroom teacher or a coach who influences our children to be all they can be. It may also be the secretary, bus driver, custodian, or the teacher’s aide. And. never underestimate the school cafeteria worker. A sweet smile, encouraging words, and a kind heart are very important in building up a child. These interactions have a life-long effect.”

Dr. Floyd Coppedge, Tinney and POE President Esther bell presented the evening’s awards. 

Finalists in the Elementary Educator Award, which honors the late Kathy Cox (who was a POE member) included Jackie Marie Bobbitt (Mounds), Donna Large (Ada), Candace Montgomery (Moore), Marty Newport (Edmond), Lisa Thompson (Tecumseh), and Heidi Christine Vollbrecht (Edmond).

Montgomery was named winner of the Elementary Educator award, considered the evening’s top honor. Concerning Montgomery, a colleague shared: “She is very personable, outgoing, and always looks on the positive side of issues.” A parent said Montgomery “has demonstrated to me time and again that she is an exceptional communicator and caring teacher who is open to constructive feedback from parents.” One student praised the educator, saying, “Her class was always filled with laughter and joy. Every day was filled with a new, exciting adventure.”

One of Montgomery’s administrators hailed her this way: “She volunteers for everything from being our ‘Duck’ at our Media ‘Duck Waddle’ fundraiser, to directing Camp Classen, our week-long, fifth grade outdoor school in the Arbuckle Mountains. She helps organize, meets with the parents, writes the activities and puts the student and sponsor books together, as well as directs the camp each November.”

Finalists for the junior high Educator Merit Award came from across the state: Hal Clary (Noble), Pam Norris (Mounds), Janey Sutton (Welch) and Tina Vercelli (Ardmore).

Hal Clary was named the winner. A parent credited his enthusiasm and attitude as leading attributes, while a colleague admired his friend’s willingness “to enlist the assistance of parents and others to find a way to reach out to the student.” 

Clary’s administrator described him as “a respected leader and mentor. From mentoring education students to volunteering to serve on school committees, he can always be counted on.” A former student declared he was “more than a good teacher” and recalled his “natural ability … to comfort and inspire all kinds of students” and said he had “natural ability … to comfort and inspire all types of students.”

High School Educator Merit Award finalists were Cherina Brown (Moss), Pamela Ivey (Heavener), Robert King (Norman), Curtis Moses (Jones) and Tracy Pipins (Fargo),  Ed Poley (Tyrone), Carla Wade (Coalgate) and Perry Zeiset (Dibble).

Mr. King was named winner in the high school category. A parent of one of his students contended, “my daughter’s success is due to this person’s ability to connect with the students and be in their corner,” while a colleague admired his willingness to work with students who are not on his class roll.

King’s administrator wrote reflected he was “constantly trying to gain the attention of their students by bringing in speakers from the community to help students relate what they are learning with everyday life.”

A former student said King was “a wonderful teacher, very patient and willing to teach and help their students.”

The Special Education Educator Award featured Dawn Collums (Oklahoma City), Valerie Durbin (Tulsa), Jennifer Fairley (Moore), Nancy Heflin (Hollis) and Roxanne Loyless (Moss). 

Winner of the special educator recognition was Heflin, from the Hollis Public Schools. Her administrator said admired the way she molds students “into believers and achievers.” A former student reflected Heflin “was a very caring teacher that took her time and helped what needed to be helped on and always would go out of her way to help with other things.”

A colleague affirmed: “She comes to school every day giving 110% no matter what the day throws at her.” And one of the Hollis parents said, “My son has Down’s Syndrome and doctors and others weren’t very optimistic about his learning abilities. Her patience with him was amazing. Having him concentrate on his studies was a challenge, but she succeeded beyond our optimism.”

Named winner of the Non-Certified Staff award was Bakeisha Tubbs, from Hollis.

Each of the evening’s winners received various gifts including Tubbs, who garnered a citation from Gov. Mary Fallin’s office and a $500 gift from the POE Foundation, and other recognitions. 

Her building principal of Tubbs, “Her positive attitude and fun personality brighten our school.” A teacher at her site Tubbs commites herself “to her duties no matter how messy or repetitive they may be. She enjoys what she is doing and makes sure that each child is aware that she is there for them.”

One of the Hollis school parents wrote, “She is very positive with each student, exemplified by her bright smile, her kind words, hugs and high fives. Our students feel comfort in having her in the classroom.” And, a student reflected, “She always makes learning fun. She is one of the assistants that makes me smile a lot. She makes sure that all of the students work hard and do their best.”

The evening included recognition of past presidents of POE, Ginger Tinney  (1995-1998), Betty Minton (1999), Keith Cumbie, Retha Nance (2001), Darryl Hatcher (2002-2003), Richard Turner (2004), Tim Rose (2005-2006), Tracy Dakil (2007-2009), and Esther Bell (2009-Present).

POE Foundation board members in attendance included President – Dr. Rick Ray, Foundation Chairman – Dr. Floyd Coppedge, Vice Chairman – Bill Bentley, Secretary – Dan Nelson, and Treasurer – Dr. Sandy Johnson. 

Retired Professional Oklahoma Educators Board members in attendance included Wayne Maxwell, John Terneus and Sue Terneus. 

Board members from the oldest of the groups, Professional Oklahoma Educators, included these attendees: President - Mrs. Esther Bell, Vice President - Mrs. Marsha Strunk, Secretary - Ms. Brenda Asher, Treasurer - Mrs. Carol Cumbie, and members Betty Minton, Darryl Hatcher, Richard Turner, Sharon O’Donnell, and Jim Smith. 

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