Woodward, Okla. —
The 6 finalists for the 2013 Woodward Teacher of the Year award were announced Monday.
And the finalists are ...
• 8th grade social studies teacher Chelsea Roberts,
• High School English teacher Michelle McDonald,
• High School chemistry teacher Chanda Peters,
• 8th grade math teacher Abbie Wasson,
• Pre-kindergarten teacher Monica Hodgden, and
• 2nd grade teacher Emilee Neagle.
The Teacher of the Year program has been a tradition in Woodward since the early 1970s and is a cooperative effort between the Woodward Chamber of Commerce and the Woodward News.
The community also plays an important part of the program, with many local businesses donating gifts and money to be presented to the winning teacher.
Superintendent Tim Merchant explained the process to pick the teacher of the year.
"Finalists are teachers nominated by other teachers who feel they stand as exceptional examples of what it means to be a teacher," Merchant said. "Then a panel from outside the community comes in and interviews the teachers to determine the Teacher of the Year. The winner is chosen based on the interview, as well as teachers' resumes and accomplishments."
Curriculum Director Sandy Johnson explained the purpose of the program saying, "We do it to honor our teachers who do an outstanding job and to reward them for the hard work that they do."
Merchant offered words of congratulations to the 6 finalists.
"First I'd like to brag on all our teachers, this group is a representation of the quality of teachers we have here. A huge congratulations to them. This is a group who year in and year out has been identified by their peers as outstanding. That's by far a bigger honor than about anything you can get, to be singled out and picked by their peers as an example of excellence," he said.
In addition to be recognized by their peers, the superintendent said that being selected as a Teacher of the Year finalist also usually signals teachers who are appreciated by their students.
"When we look at these teachers as individuals on the final 6 list, one thing that stands out is not only are they excellent teachers, but they're there because of the relationships they build with their students. You name any of those teachers on the list and look at the kids around them, and you'll see their students know these teachers deeply care about them. Thats the mark of an excellent teacher," Merchant said.
The 2013 Teacher of the Year winner will be named in February.