The Woodward News

Local News

July 17, 2012

Stone preparing for next round of teacher contest

Woodward, Okla. — Lee Ann Stone never thought she would be a state finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

Stone, who's been a kindergarten teacher in Woodward for 19 years, was overwhelmed and shocked to find out that she was named one of the 12 finalists for the state competition.

"You hope for it in the back of your mind, but when she called to tell me I was a finalist, I almost didn't believe her," Stone said of getting the call last week from a representative of the State Department of Education telling her she was one of the top 12.

"It is really nice to be recognized for my teaching abilities.  I always knew that I was a good teacher, but never gave it a second thought on receiving an award for doing what I love to do," Stone said.

She was nominated for the state title after being selected as the 2012 Woodward Teacher of the Year during a local reception in February.

According to the State Department of Education's Teacher of the Year webpage (http://ok.gov/sde/oklahoma-teacher-year), to qualify for the local and state awards: "Nominees should be exceptionally skillful and dedicated classroom teachers who are planning to continue in an active teaching status. ... Nominees should communicate effectively and demonstrate creative and imaginative teaching on a day-to-day basis. The nominee should have the ability to inspire the value of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities and assure academic success."

Tim Merchant, Woodward Public Schools superintendent said, "I can't begin to say how excited we are for Mrs. Stone. She is a representative of all the quality teachers here in Woodward."

Merchant said Stone's status as a state finalist is also an honor for the whole district as it recognizes the high quality of education that is to be expected from the many great teachers in Woodward, and Stone in particular.

"Mrs. Stone deserves the recognition that she is getting. She is an excellent, excellent teacher. She begins by building relationships with her students who then develop a love for learning," Merchant said.

Stone said that she is really looking forward to the announcement of the state winner in September.

"I'm excited and frightened all at the same time about the finals. I can talk in front of small children all day long, but adults are very intimidating to me," Stone said.

"I have to put together a short 10 minute video of myself teaching and go through both an individual interview and a round table discussion with the other finalists as part of the selection process for the finals," Stone said.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education website (sde.ok.gov), after viewing all the finalist videos and conducting the interviews with each of the 12 finalists, a selection committee will make a recommendation to State Superintendent Janet Barresi for the overall winner.  After receiving and reviewing the committee's recommendation, Barresi will announce the winner during a special ceremony at the Oklahoma state fair in September.

Stone said she would like to thank the other teachers and administrators that she works with for helping to mold her into the teacher she is today, and most importantly, she wanted to thank her husband Mike for his support.

Stone said that she is excited and can't put into words what it means to represent Woodward at the state level.

If selected as the state winner, Stone would serve as Oklahoma's "Ambassador of Teaching," presenting to teachers and civic groups throughout the state for one year, according to a press release.

The press release also notes the state winner will receive $50,000 in cash and prizes. Stone is not sure how she would use the winnings if she is selected, but she said that she would probably have a good time and use part of it to help those in need.

Since starting the Oklahoma Teacher of the year program in 1955 only one teacher from Woodward has won the honor.  Mary Jane Bassett was named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year in 1994.

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