A special education teacher who puts an emphasis on including everyone was named Thursday as Yukon’s Teacher of the Year.
Whitney Bruton, who has taught at Independence Elementary School since 2013, was honored during “The Event,” which was held at the 10 West Main Events Center.
Her selection was announced by the 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Becky Oglesby. Oglesby also is the 2018 Yukon Teacher of the Year.
“She will represent all and what it means to be a teacher Yukon Public Schools. She is strong inside the classroom and out. She truly believes in including all students in learning and that all means all. She maintains a positive attitude in tough circumstances and should be our poster child for PLCs. She supports not just her students, but her colleagues, friends and family with great strength and determination,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby, who will begin her duties as the state’s teacher of the year in July, symbolically handed Bruton a baton saying that it symbolizes the pride of the Yukon School district and the endurance of Yukon’s educators.
She said Bruton would be responsible for carrying the next leg of the journey, much like runners on a relay team.
“I thank you for letting me carry the baton, but it is now time to pass it to another team member,” she said.
Bruton said she was surprised at receiving the honor but was tipped off when Oglesby started describing the honoree’s desire to include all students in the learning process.
“That is something I advocate for all students,” she said.
“It is an unbelievable honor. I feel incredibly humbled by it. I think there are so many teachers in this district who deserve this award. So, I am incredibly humbled and am really proud to represent Yukon,” Bruton said.
In giving her speech from the podium, Bruton said she was grateful.
“I did not accomplish this alone,” she said, pointing to her family sitting at a table near the front of the stage.
Bruton said they support her when she’s working and even when she is worrying about her students.
Bruton also thanked the staff at Independence, and in Yukon.
“I owe them a tremendous debt for all of their creativity, encouragement and love,” she said.
Bruton said the mantra from last year’s teacher walkout, “Together we are stronger,” is accurate.
“That could not be more true. I think together we are better. It is with the backbone of this community that we are able to get up every day with enthusiasm and purpose, knowing we are part of something that is so much bigger and so much sweeter than ourselves. For that, I am the most thankful,” Bruton said.
Bruton is a native of New Mexico and has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She graduated with honors from the special education master’s program at New Mexico State University.
She serves on Independence’s leadership committee and is a member of the fourth-grade English Language Arts PLC and has led several site professional development classes.
She will be Yukon’s nominee for state teacher of the year.
Bruton was one of 11 nominees for Teacher of the year.
The other nominees were Samantha Manke, a science teacher at Yukon High School; Kristin Doutey, a kindergarten teacher at Central Elementary; Wendy Green, a music teacher at Myer’s Elementary; Jamie Hardin, a special education teacher at Lakeview Elementary; Kelsi Hernandez, a first-grade teacher at Parkland Elementary; Bryan Jarrett, sixth-grade science teacher at Yukon Middle School; Chase Langley, a physical education teacher at Shedeck Elementary; Gene Oxford, a third-grade teacher at Skyview Elementary; Whitney Stults, a kindergarten teacher at Surrey Hills Elementary; and Stacy Grba, a third-grade teacher at Ranchwood Elementary.