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NPS Announces Five Finalists for Teacher of the Year

Norman Public Schools announced this morning five finalists for 2016 district Teacher of the Year from a field of 25 site teachers of the year. The finalists were competitively selected by the district’s Staff Development Committee based on a written portfolio and interviews. The five finalists are:

Jenny Crow, a physical education teacher at Kennedy Elementary for four years and ten years experience in education. She has a passion for cross-curricular collaboration and enjoys creating lessons that supplement content introduced in the regular classroom. Crow says: “The secret to my success as a teacher lies in my ability to form quality relationships with students and colleagues. I have developed unique lessons throughout my teaching career, however it is because of the rapport I have established with my students that allow these lessons to be effective.”

Brandi Caldwell, an Instructional Coach at Lakeview Elementary for two years and nine years experience in education. She is an advocate for teacher collaboration and encourages teachers to reflect on their practice. Caldwell says: “My crowning achievement as an educator has been sharing my ability to reflect with others, and in turn, building a culture of reflective people around me. Coaching connects me to so many people who are passionate about how we learn. Those invaluable connections help me find more ways to collaborate and assist others.”

Ellen Kraft, a teacher of English Language Learners at Truman Primary for six years and twelve years experience in education. She has worked to link home and school for non-English speaking families through outreach programs. Kraft says: “Trust, compassion, high expectations, and advocacy are the foundation of my work in education. All children, whether they are from across town or from across the world deserve to be noticed for the gifts they bring. At the end of each day, I hope my kids feel 100 feet tall because Ms. Kraft believes they can achieve greatness! ”

Angela Johnson, a teacher of Baby Steps and Life Skills at Dimensions Academy for three years and three years experience in education. She is an advocate for children and teens in an alternative education setting. Johnson says: “I believe students learn best within a trusting relationship.This is especially true for the at-risk students that I have the opportunity to teach. These students not only need to learn academics, they need to learn that someone cares about them as a person.”

Adam Lifsics, a Biology and AP Environmental Science teacher at Norman High School for ten years and ten years experience in education. He has partnered with Earth Rebirth to ensure that there was a  garden at every school in the district that did not already have one.  Additionally, he raised funds to build an aquaponics system in the NHS greenhouse that is currently growing food that is being used in the school cafeteria. Lifsics says: “It is so exciting to be teaching a subject that forces students to identify problems and determine which solutions are the most efficient and also have the smallest environmental impact. We are always in a growth mindset in my classroom because the world will not allow us to stand still.”

 “These finalists are tremendous ambassadors for education,” said Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano. “I congratulate them on this honor and appreciate how each of them are committed to providing opportunities for all of their students to succeed. We are fortunate to have these finalists, and so many great teacher leaders, who choose to work for Norman Public Schools.”

One finalist will be named the NPS District Teacher of the Year at the district’s annual Celebration of Excellence banquet, to be held April 19. The winner will be chosen based on his/her portfolio, interviews and a video showcasing their teaching strengths and philosophy. The district winner will then proceed to compete in the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year competition, which announces its winner this fall at the State Fair of Oklahoma.