NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s newest Teacher of the Year never expected her name to be called during a live Zoom meeting with the 12 finalists from across the state.
“Now to the moment you have all been waiting for,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced.
“The envelope please…for 2021, Teacher of the Year is Jessica Eschbach from Norman Public Schools!”
In complete shock, Eschbach’s hands immediately covered her mouth, with her eyes open wide above her mask.
“Thank you so much and I can’t believe this is happening!” Eschbach said.
The Norman technology teacher has been serving students for seven years.
She’s mastered thinking outside the box as an innovative learning coach, and designing educational technology curriculums, including robots!
“Lifelong learning will always be a passion for me,” Eschbach said in her nomination video.
Her creativity includes building a student reading program at Kennedy Elementary School with Norman city leaders – a program so popular that it comes with a waiting list!
“And I also wrote grants so that I could get the [Oklahoma City] Zoo to come to us. They actually brought animals right into this library, because so many of my students have never had the opportunity to go to the zoo,” Eschbach said.
And with her prestigious title comes many prizes, including $10,000 dollars in Girl Scout cookies!
After winning the title, Google and the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma surprised Eschbach and her colleagues with so many cookie boxes, they filled the delivery van from floor to ceiling, and spilled onto the ground when the doors opened.
“I think I’m going to have to go to my former school sites and here at North, and spread the wealth. And I’ll be very popular for it!” Eschbach laughed.
Google paid for the prize cookies and all proceeds go to the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma.
Other prizes include a free car for a year, $6,000 dollars, 36 free college credits and a $500 classroom makeover.
But starting in July, she’ll be out of the classroom for one year, traveling across the state as the newest ambassador of Oklahoma teachers. Her new duties will include speaking engagements and encouraging others to enter or remain in the teaching profession.
“I just hope that I can do you proud and make a long-lasting difference for all of our students.”