3 Tulsa-area educators win Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Medals for Excellence
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 6:24 AM
Three Tulsa-area educators are among winners of the prestigious 2013 Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Medals for Excellence.
John Waldron of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School and Jill Edwards Steeley of Coweta's Central Elementary School won for secondary and elementary school teaching, respectively, while Union Public Schools Superintendent Cathy Burden is this year's medal winner in school administration.
The other honorees are Ruth Askew Brelsford, a speech and theater professor at Eastern Oklahoma State College and Richard Bunce, chemistry professor at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater.
The foundation also announced the names of 100 top high school seniors selected as recipients of the Academic All-State Awards.
All of the awards will be presented at the foundation's 27th annual Academic Awards Banquet on May 18 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
"By honoring these exceptional educators, we are sending a message that Oklahomans deeply value excellence in public schools and the professionals who have given so much of themselves to enrich the lives of our children," said David Boren, University of Oklahoma president and founder and chairman of the nonprofit Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
Since its establishment in 1985, the foundation has provided more than $4 million in scholarships and cash awards to honor outstanding students and exceptional educators.
Each medal winner receives a $5,000 cash prize and a glass "Roots and Wings" sculpture, designed by late Oklahoma artist Ron Roberts and produced by Jim Triffo of Oklahoma City.
Waldron is National Board certified and has 20 years' experience. At Booker T. Washington, he teaches world history and Asian history in the international baccalaureate program, as well as U.S. government, ancient and medieval history, and Advanced Placement government and politics.
He is also the founder of the school's Model U.N. program.
"I came into education with a specific goal in mind: to make good global citizens out of my students by exposing them to ideas in the social studies and by promoting good thinking skills," Waldron said.
Steeley teaches second grade now, but over the course of her long career she has taught all ages and grade levels - from kindergartners to university students.
She has also devoted herself to a lifetime of learning, earning a master's degree in reading, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, and National Board certification in literacy.
"Teaching is all I have ever wanted to do," Steeley said. "In my 42nd year in the profession, I still look forward to coming to school each day. I never tire of seeing a student grasp a new concept, grow in confidence or willingly persevere to overcome a challenge."
Burden, who is in her 19th year as Union's superintendent, is set to retire this summer.
She began her career 41 years ago as a special-education teacher, and she cites that early training as having taught her the importance of a student-centered school environment.
"As a leader, it has been my mission to create such an environment by building a culture of care and support for our students and their families, respect and empowerment for our professional educators and a dynamic learning experience to develop the full potential of our students," she said.
Under her leadership, Union has added four elementary schools, developed community school programs at eight sites, seen voters pass $306 million in construction and improvement bonds, and instituted the new Union Collegiate Academy.
Academic All-Staters: The 100 top public high school seniors, selected from 610 nominations statewide, hail from 77 schools. They scored an average of 33 on the ACT college entrance exam, with six scoring a perfect 36.
All-Staters are nominated by their principals or superintendents and are selected by an independent committee of business, education and civic leaders, and past honorees on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community involvement, as well as a personal essay.
The Academic Awards Banquet is open to the public and will feature a keynote address by three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Thomas L. Friedman. Admission costs $50.
For more information, call the Foundation for Excellence at 405-236-0006.
Area students are named Academic All-Staters
Nicole Biddinger and Katy Layman, Bartlesville High School; Christy Jenkins, Beggs High School; David Dolan, Berryhill High School; Erin Peterson, Bixby High School; Jack Schaefer and Rachel Stromberg, Booker T. Washington High School; Hunter Stryke, Bristow High School; Marissa Griffin, Broken Arrow High School; Thomas Littlejohn, Coweta High School; Merrisa Jennings, Collinsville High School; Bailey Wilton, Claremore High School; Mariah Burris, Cushing High School; Chance Upshaw, Dewar High School; and Benjamin Wallace, Fort Gibson High School.
Also, Alexander Richter, Hilldale High School; Angela Chang, Jolee Potts and Samantha Rogers, Jenks High School; Kelsey Roberson, McAlester High School; Hunter Burrow, Miami High School; Dylan Oney, Muskogee High School; Luke Stringer, Oologah-Talala High School; Kameron McCombs, Owasso High School; Bonnie James, Skiatook High School; Sarah Wymer, Union High School; and Savannah Manning of Verdigris High School.
Area winners who attend the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics are Connor Sell of Broken Arrow and Christopher Jeng of Ponca City.
Original Print Headline: Three area educators win excellence awards
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
John Waldron (from left), Jill Edwards Steeley and Cathy Burden: Waldron teaches at Booker T. Washington High School, Steeley teaches at Coweta's Central Elementary School, and Burden is the superintendent of Union Public Schools.