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Green Country has 7 of 12 finalists for 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

2022 oklahoma teacher of the year finalists neok
Northeast Oklahoma finalists: (top row from left) Bixby's Shannon Altom, Tahlequah's Emily Freise, Collinsville's Cindy Johnson, (second row) Union's Rebekah Peterson, Tulsa's Donna Ross, Coweta's Shelley Self and (bottom row) Bristow's Lauren Vandever.

Northeast Oklahoma is well represented in the field of Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalists.

Seven of the 12 educators up for the 2022 award are in Green Country schools, teaching everything from elementary school in Tulsa to high school math in Collinsville, reading in Bristow to art in Coweta. At an announcement ceremony in Oklahoma City, 2021 Teacher of the Year Jessica Eschbach praised the finalists for continuing to prioritize their students’ well being amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"You deserve to be here. You have been chosen to represent your districts and your schools for a reason, and you are making us all proud with everything that you do for your kids every single day and I am honored to be in your presence and call you all colleagues," Eschbach said.

The finalists:

  • Bixby 11th grade English teacher Shannon Altom
  • Choctaw/Nicoma L.W. Westfall Elementary School special education teacher Tina Dewey
  • Tahlequah Greenwood Elementary School speech language pathologist Emily Freise
  • Bethel Lower Elementary School kindergarten teacher Kerry Ingersoll
  • Collinsville 10th–12th grade math teacher Cindy Johnson
  • Union 10th–12th grade math teacher Rebecka Peterson
  • Norman Truman Elementary School fifth grade teacher Juan Renteria Jr.
  • Tulsa McKinley Elementary School fourth grade teacher Donna Ross
  • Coweta ninth–12th grade art teacher Shelley Self
  • Moore Alternative School and Treatment therapeutic educator Kortni Torralba
  • Snyder John D. Moeller Primary School pre-K teacher Sheila Treadwell
  • Bristow Middle School seventh grade reading teacher Lauren Vanderver

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said all 12 are highly deserving of the honor.

"It's been a tough, tough past 18 months, and you all have shown up, you haven't given up and you've continued to give everything you have for your Oklahoma students. And those are deposits in the lives and hearts of Oklahoma children and families, and I'm grateful for you," Hofmeister said.

All 12 finalists were their school or district’s teacher of the year. The state teacher of the year will be named in March and competes for the national award. The teacher of the year also tours the state for speaking engagements and encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.

2018 was the last time the Oklahoma teacher of the year came from northeast Oklahoma.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.