ADA – Jessica Eschbach, Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year for 2021 and a recent East Central University master’s program graduate, will deliver the annual Marvin Stokes Lecture on the ECU campus on October 25.
Eschbach currently teaches in the Norman school system, serving as the Innovative Learning Coach at Norman North High School. She has worked exclusively in the Norman system for seven years, teaching Social Studies and English at Alcott Middle School and serving as teacher-librarian at Kennedy Elementary School.
“I enjoyed my time as a student at ECU so much,” Eschbach said. “The Educational Leadership program has helped me to develop the necessary skills to be successful in an administrative role, while also being flexible and supportive of students like me who are managing work and school.”
Named a finalist for the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year in October 2020, Eschbach learned of the honor during an online ceremony on the morning of March 4, 2021, which was followed by an in-person award presentation by State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister later in the day. Eschbach said she was “stunned” by the news, but her ECU professors were not surprised.
“Jessica has a passion for creating environments that facilitate student success for all,” said Dr. Jerry Mihelic, director of ECU’s Educational Leadership program. “She is humble and cares about everyone and will make an outstanding administrator. We are all very proud of her.”
Eschbach began her full-time Oklahoma Teacher of the Year duties on July 1. The winner traditionally takes leave from the classroom to serve as the state’s ambassador for all teachers, encouraging others to pursue a profession in education.
The annual Marvin Stokes Lecture, named for the legendary Byng superintendent, also serves as a platform to recognize scholarship award recipients in ECU’s Education department as well as an opportunity to celebrate district teachers of the year.
District teachers of the year will be recognized with a video presentation preceding Eschbach’s talk. Teachers being recognized include Julianne Daffern, Tupelo; Tara Dyson, Pauls Valley; Amy Fetters, Willard (Ada); Tyler Lasher, Stratford; Vickie Mobbs, Tupelo; Rachel Morris, McAlester; Julie Rauch, Latta; Melissa Sells, Allen; Linlee Storts, Roff; and Robyn Whaley, Davis.
The Marvin Stokes Lectureship enhances ECU’s ability to expose students in the College of Education, and educators in the university service area, to ideas and trends on the state, national and international stages.
“I am so pleased we take time every year to celebrate education and educators in this manner,” said Dr. Phyllis Isaacs, dean of ECU’s College of Education. “The teachers we are honoring at this event, both at the district and state level, positively influence the lives of hundreds of public school students each year. It is a privilege to be able to use this time to acknowledge these outstanding educators for their commitments to the profession and their students.”
The funding for the event is provided by the annual earnings on funds dedicated to the Marvin Stokes Endowed Lectureship through the ECU Foundation Inc. and matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
The program for the Marvin Stokes Lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 25, in the Raymond Estep Multimedia Center inside the Bill S. Cole University Center on the ECU campus. The public is invited to attend.