Mustang Public Schools’ Board of Education recognized the 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year Lauren Thacker at Monday night’s meeting.
“My first thought upon winning was, ‘Really? THIS year?’” said Thacker. “Of the years I’ve been teaching, this is the one in which I feel the least effective. I think all teachers are in the same boat right now, riding the tumultuous waves of self-doubt, lack-of-sleep and genuine confusion about what’s best for our students in this unprecedented time.
“However, receiving this award is an incredible reminder that your toughest critic is yourself. I work with the best people around. When I walk down the hallways, there’s always a smiling face or a kind word from my colleagues. There are teachers in every department who encourage and challenge me, and I steal brilliant ideas from them all the time.”
Prior to the meeting, district officials surprised the Mustang High School English teacher with the announcement at her classroom.
“Lauren’s true calling is most definitely in education,” said MHS Principal Kathy Knowles. “She works daily to challenge and mold those around her, not only professionally, but as individuals. She reminds us all to laugh, enjoy ourselves and create lasting relationships with those around us.”
Thacker graduated in 2005 from The John Cooper School in Texas. She later attended Oklahoma State University where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 2009.
Thacker then achieved her master’s in Business Administration in 2011. She began her teaching career in 2011 as a substitute teacher for Union Public Schools.
Thacker became a part of the Bronco family in 2012 after being hired at MHS.
One of Thacker’s former students wrote a letter of recommendation for her, saying she never judged her and was a great listener. The student continued by writing how she was able to find her voice in Thacker’s creative writing class.
“I had gone from being a girl who was too shy to talk to people, to a person that wasn’t afraid to create entire worlds,” the student wrote. “Without Mrs. Thacker, I wouldn’t have had the courage to even try.”
When her seniors graduate, Thacker said she hopes they carry excitement and eagerness in connection with reading and communicating into adulthood.
Thacker’s colleagues also said she ensures her students feel welcomed and engaged.
“We are very proud of all our 17 candidates and are fortunate to have them as representatives of MPS,” said Superintendent Charles Bradley. “The excellence they exhibit each day, their caring for our students and their willingness to go above and beyond are the epitome of what it means to be a Mustang Bronco.”
• Cassidy Robinson at Centennial Elementary;
• Racheal Castleberry at Prairie View Elementary;
• Jessica Towne at Mustang Trails Elementary;
• Darla Howell at Mustang Creek Elementary;
• Jennifer Penick at Lakehoma Elementary;
• Sarah Moody at Mustang Valley Elementary;
• Sheila Kramer at Riverwood Elementary;
• Ali Holliday at Mustang Elementary;
• Shelley Thompson at Meadow Brook Intermediate;
• Sarah Green at Mustang Horizon Intermediate;
• Wade Walling II at Canyon Ridge Intermediate;
• Jennifer Joy at Mustang North Middle School;
• Shawn Elmore at Mustang Middle School;
• Liz Brown at Mustang Central Middle School;
• Many Weinrich at the Mustang Education Center;
• Judith Kuczynski at MHS;
• Thacker at MHS.
Pre-COVID-19, the district hosted a banquet to recognize all site Teachers of the Year and make the District Teacher of the Year announcement. The board will recognize them at the May 10 meeting.