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State Superintendent announces Oklahoma’s 2017 Teacher of the Year

Jon Hazell, Oklahoma State Department of Education

Jon Hazell, Oklahoma State Department of Education

DURANT, Okla. – Oklahoma’s 2017 Teacher of the Year was announced Tuesday.

Jon Hazell, a science teacher at Durant High School, was named Oklahoma’s 2017 Teacher of the Year at a ceremony at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

A graduate of Durant High School, Hazell has taught anatomy, biology and environmental science for 33 years in the Durant Independent School District.

In addition to teaching, he is the lead pastor at United Church of Tishomingo.

“My purpose as a teacher is not so much to motivate my students as it is to create an environment where they motivate themselves,” Hazell wrote in his state Teacher of the Year application.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who made the announcement at the Centennial Building at the fairgrounds, said Hazell’s commitment to education is evident in the contributions he has made to his community.

“Jon has a true servant’s heart, giving back to his neighbors and teaching his students to do the same,” Hofmeister said. “From sponsoring food, clothing and toy drives to raising money for a student stricken with leukemia, Jon is a gifted, inspiring speaker who will be a tremendous ambassador for the profession. In Durant, he is near the border of Texas, where a teacher could earn more, but his commitment is to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma.”

Hofmeister praised all of the teachers in attendance, including all 12 state Teacher of the Year finalists.

“Teachers not only teach, they encourage, mentor, listen, engage and inspire. No amount of thanks can express our gratitude for what they accomplish each and every time they enter our classrooms,” Hofmeister said.

Hazell said he was inspired to teach by his father, Don Hazell, who taught biological sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for 32 years.

“I grew up with constant reminders and affirmation of the respect afforded to the teaching profession. That created a spark in me,” the new Oklahoma Teacher of the Year said. “It showed the influence a teacher could have not only on students, but also on all the people those students influenced.”

Hazell helps inmates learn to read and complete their GEDs as part of his five-county prison ministry. Sponsor of the Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school, he is also the ropes course lead facilitator at Crosspoint Camp on Lake Texoma. The course is designed to enhance student cooperation and teamwork.

Hazell will remain in his classroom for the rest of the school year. Starting July 1, 2017, he will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.

A panel of 28 educators, comprised of members of the business community, legislators and nonprofit partners, selected the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year after extensive interviews with the 12 finalists, themselves district Teachers of Year from across the state.

The judges named Mike Doudican, a U.S. history and government teacher at Glenpool High School in the Glenpool Public School District, runner-up for the state title.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) also honored six “Rising Star” teachers — district Teachers of the Year whom the regional judges felt deserved special recognition for their talent and potential.

The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year program is organized by OSDE in conjunction with the national competition.

The other 11 state Teacher of the Year finalists are:

  • Rebecka Binion, Linwood Elementary School, Oklahoma City Public Schools
  • Mike Doudican, Glenpool High School, Glenpool Public Schools
  • Kristen Dover, Cache Intermediate Elementary School, Cache Public Schools
  • Robin Haworth, Tecumseh High School, Tecumseh Public Schools
  • Brittany Hix, Jenks West Intermediate School, Jenks Public Schools
  • Charmin Holland, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Duncan Public Schools
  • Tiffany Massie, Canyon Ridge Intermediate School, Mustang Public Schools
  • Adam Mewhorter, Southmoore High School, Moore Public Schools
  • Kay Morris, Verdigris Lower Elementary School, Verdigris Public Schools
  • Lisa Pitts, Jones Elementary School, Jones Public Schools
  • Mona Schmitz, Highland Park Elementary, Woodward Public Schools

The Rising Stars are:

  • Jamie Aguilar, Garfield Elementary School, Enid Public Schools
  • Michelle Clonch, Washington Elementary School, Ada Public Schools
  • Melaine Crowder, Grove Upper Elementary School, Grove Public Schools
  • Laura Latta, Rosa Parks Elementary School, Union Public Schools
  • Kasey McKinzie, Wanette Public Schools
  • Jordan Wisniewski, Bethany Middle School, Bethany Public Schools