Rob Davis represented Yukon Public Schools well Tuesday as one of the 12 finalists of the 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
Although Davis didn’t win, YPS won because he will remain in the classroom with his students instead of traveling around Oklahoma for the 2018-19 academic year.
“When you think about how many teachers there are and how many school districts there are across the state, it is really impressive to be one of the 2 finalists,” YPS Superintendent Jason Simeroth previously said of Davis. “Rob has worked really hard to get there and he deserves it.”
Donna Gradel, an environmental science teacher at Broken Arrow Public Schools, was announced as the 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year during a ceremony Tuesday at the Oklahoma State Fair.
This year’s 12 finalists included:
—Jill Andrews, Claremore Public Schools
—Neeli Boyd, Putnam City Schools
—Sarah Carter, Drumright Public Schools
—Rob Davis, Yukon High School
—Betty Deen, Oologah-Talala Public Schools
—Donna Gradel, Broken Arrow Public Schools
—Chad Harper, Mustang Public Schools
—Janet Johnson, Sand Springs Schools
—Dionne Liebl, Deer Creek Schools
—Shala Marshall, Jenks Public Schools
—Christine Mueller, Moore Public Schools
—Laura Smith, Byng Public Schools
Davis was one of only two male teachers in this year’s group of finalists, with the other being Harper of Mustang.
Tuesday’s hour-and-a-half-long ceremony was packed with announcements, sponsorships, presentations and remarks.
Each finalist was given a minute and a half to address the crowd during the ceremony.
The 90-second-speeches were in alphabetical order, making Davis the fourth to speak.
“Just last week, one of my Yukon students asked me, ‘Why did you become a teacher?’ Well I began to answer, ‘if you had only known the role models in my life,’” Davis said, listing multiple teachers as his role models.
“I then hit them with my own question, ‘Why did Picasso paint?’ From my classroom came a billion answers, ‘because he was good at it’ or ‘because he made money.’ Seizing a teachable moment, I asked my students to tell me about themselves, their families, their day, their goals and dreams. ‘You see,’ I told them, ‘you are the reason why I’m here.’ I explained they are my family, seeing them makes my day and my goal is for them to achieve their dreams. Now I ask, ‘Do you see why I’m a teacher?’ From puzzled looks, all I heard was ‘I don’t get it.’ ‘You see,’ I told them, ‘Though Picasso may have created beautiful masterpieces, I as a teacher inspire our greatest works with our most valued treasures, our students.
“If there is one thing all of us in this room can agree on, it is a love that we have for our students. For them, we would do anything. Which leads me to the question, have you made a difference today? All of us sit on the front line of our state’s future. It takes only one unselfish act to change a life. We cannot do this alone as educators, business owners, parents, democrats or republicans. We can only do it by uniting together as our most honorable name, Oklahomans. Time and time again, we as Oklahomans have shown the world the definition of service to others. Imagine what we could accomplish if we knew we couldn’t fail. So let’s work together. Let’s inspire. Let’s make a difference today.”
Among all of the finalists’ speeches and remarks from Joy Hofmeister, state superintendent of public instruction of the Oklahoma State Department of Education; Tim O’Toole, president and CEO of the Oklahoma State Fair; Heather Griswold, chief of public affairs for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, and Robyn Miller, deputy superintendent for educator effectiveness and policy research for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the common theme was that all educators in Oklahoma are great. The 12 finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year stand merely as an example of the greatness that Oklahoma educators embody.
Davis teaches Keystone, Pre-AP Oklahoma History and Native American Expressions at Yukon High School. He also coaches the Academic Team.
This year is his 16th year in education, but only his fourth year at YPS, so even just being chosen as YHS’s Teacher of the Year was an honor.
“I am deeply honored to be selected by such a talented, hard working group of educators,” Davis previously said. “When I received this honor I was shocked and excited to know that my peers believe I am worthy of the awesome responsibility to represent them. There are zero words to express how honored I am knowing that these educators who inspire me on a daily basis think that I am going above and beyond for my students.”
Davis said it was humbling to be chosen as an Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalist.
“Not only do you get to represent all of the teachers here at Yukon, but you get to represent Oklahoma. It’s a great time to represent our state and it’s exciting,” Davis said July 12 when he was chosen as a finalist. “Everything starts with the kids, their interests, their strengths and what we need to accomplish to make the experience successful. When the kids are relaxed, they are going to have the most success, so an individualized learning approach is important.”
Davis has served as a mentor teacher for first year educators and student teachers assigned to YHS. He also worked with Oklahoma State School Board and Apple last school year to create a free database of historical references and lessons that any teacher can use with their computer or iPad.
“History is a subject that should create excitement in people. When I walk into a science classroom I see students in a science lab, so why not have my students in a history museum? Here my students are surrounded by authentic items ranging from the Yukon Mill to items from the Oklahoma City Bombing or the civil rights,” Davis said.
“If there is one constant in my classroom it is the long-lasting relationships that are established between me and my students. On day one I tell them that they have officially been adopted; by the end of the year my students understand and know the truth behind this statement”.
Davis was unavailable for comment after Tuesday’s ceremony.
Gradel will remain in the classroom for the remainder of the 2017-18 academic year, but take ownership of Oklahoma Teacher of the Year July 1, 2018 to travel the state.