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Teacher honored by nonprofit says STEM ed critical as world faces serious environmental problems

Teacher Reese Hundley, left, with Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance staff Levi Patrick and Emily Mortimer.
Broken Arrow Public Schools
Teacher Reese Hundley, left, with Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance staff Levi Patrick and Emily Mortimer.

Education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is more important now than ever as the world faces extraordinary environmental challenges. That's according to a teacher named STEM educator of the year by a local nonprofit.

Reese Hundley who works at the Vanguard Academy in Broken Arrow was selected by the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance as STEM educator of the year. Hundley says STEM skills are critical for potential problem solvers.

"People that are gonna innovate and solve problems that are unprecedented. Some of the biggest problems humanity has ever faced are on our doorstep," said Hundley. "I'm really passionate about teaching environmental science. We're truly a product of our communities and the people that are in our lives, but also the environment, and we gotta figure out ways of meeting needs across the board."

Levi Patrick, executive director of the Regional STEM Alliance, says Hundley stood out among the 20 award applicants and four finalists.

"Reese came out on top. We really saw in his work a remarkable passion and an ability to connect with his students. Just a good-hearted teacher who really shows, and I think exemplifies, the fact that teaching is more than just getting kids to pass a test. It's really about giving them a sense of possibility for the future," said Patrick.

Hundley was awarded $4,000 to use in his classroom and $1,000 of personal prize money. Other finalists in the Tulsa area were Heather Ross at Rosa Parks Elementary and Amy Bracher at Booker T. Washington High.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.