Yukon, Piedmont teachers among finalists for state teacher of the year

The “Batman” teacher is now a finalist to be Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year.

Rebecca Oglesby, who was named Yukon’s teacher of the year in March, was announced Thursday as one of 12 finalists for the honor.

She is joined by Piedmont guidance counselor Cathy Adams.

It is the second year in a row that two Canadian County teachers have been selected.

Oglesby will begin her third year of teaching art at Ranchwood Elementary in August.

Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said Oglesby deserves the honor.

“She is an outstanding example of what we want our teachers to be. I think she is a shining star not only in our district, but in the state,” she said.

Oglesby said Thursday that she was surprised when she got the call letting her know she was a finalist.

“I think it is a tremendous honor to be selected with the group of teachers I’m with. Just to be put in with a group of teachers like that makes you feel good about yourself. It is a great honor,” she said. “You are up against the best of the best, so it is kind of a shock when they tell you that you are one of the best,” the eighth-year teacher said.

Oglesby is known as the “Batman” teacher because of the large amount of Batman memorabilia in her classroom as well as at her home.

She uses the items as teaching tools and to connect with her students.

After winning the Yukon honor in March, she said the memorabilia makes the interpersonal connection easier.

“When you put on the mask, you let them know you want to be a hero. You can’t take that job lightly. You have to take it serious. You have to become a hero. You can’t be a villain,” she said.

But Oglesby is not only a “Batman” hero, she truly is one.

Oglesby was a teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore in 2013 when a tornado ripped through the building.

She said in March that experiencing the tragedy made her a better teacher.

“If anything, it gave me purpose. It is more important to do what I do than ever before. I think in the back of your head, you know your number one priority is student safety, keeping them safe, whether that is from bullying or whatever.  When it becomes that real to you …. It brings a whole level of purpose to what I do,” she said.

Oglesby said she has a passion for teaching and a passion for her students.

“In the midst of a lot of things, I think sometimes we forget our center. … This is not my profession, this is my purpose. I am about the students, and when that is your center, you can’t really be shaken from it,” she said.

This is the second straight year that a Yukon teacher has been named a finalist.

Rob Davis, who teaches history at Yukon High School, was among last year’s finalists.

Simeroth said having two finalists in two years, is exciting.

“It is very much a bragging point for the people we hire. We look for the best, and Becky is one of them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adams has been in the Piedmont district for nine years and serves as a guidance counselor at the elementary school.

She has 30 years of teaching experience in other states including Texas, Wyoming and Washington.

“It is quite an honor,” Adams said by phone Thursday.

She was honored as the district’s teacher of the year in February, and said she was surprised to get a call from state Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister in June.

“I was very surprised. I feel like I have the best job at my school. I get to work with all of the children from pre-K to fourth-grade,” she said.

Her focus is on teaching students social and emotional lessons. She also teaches classes on empathy and bully prevention.

In addition, she serves as a facilitator for Oklahoma City-based Calm Waters, which is an organization that helps children who have gone through some type of trauma or loss in their lives.

She said she is very happy to work in the Piedmont district.

“Piedmont is a very close-knit, very family oriented community. That’s what I enjoy,” she said.”All of our teachers are so dedicated and professional. The parents are super supportive. … Everyone looks out for each other.”

The other finalists are: Natalie Fielden of Sapulpa, Shari Gateley of Putnam City West,  Amy Greenshaw of Jenks, Carol Hunsperger of Grove, Teresa Lansford of Norman, Jenny Morphis of Hilldale, Warren Neff of Bartlesville, Jessica Robinson of Altus, Michelle Shelton of Noble, and V. Jannean Thompson of Berryhill.

The 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year will be named Sept. 18 in a ceremony at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

The 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year will remain in the classroom for the 2018-19 school year. Beginning July 1, 2019, the honoree will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.

The 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Donna Gradel of Broken Arrow, will continue to tour the state until July 2019.

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