Long after concluding her illustrious 38-year elementary school teaching career in 2005, Ada resident Ruth Ann Taylor has really never stopped instructing.
The East Central University graduate has often made presentations in schools, to Boy Scout Troops and to civic clubs in her postretirement years.
Through an organization called P.A.S.T. (Preserving the Area Stories in Time), Taylor has portrayed an early-day Ada woman in a skit called “The Best Kept Secret of the West.” She has also been active in playing a “Schoolmarm” at the Little Red School House or as “Granny” at the Campbell Cabin.
She has played these roles in front of numerous public school children, home schoolers and even several adult groups.
Taylor’s innovative approach to teaching began during her early days at the Glenwood Early Childhood Center in Ada in which she wrote and received a grant for the making of several costumes for important historical events or career choices.
“It was my pleasure to furnish several costumes, also,” said Taylor. “I found that costuming was a vehicle for teaching and it always seemed to make a lasting impression on the children.”
Among the list of characters she portrayed over the years were Uncle Sam, Statue of Liberty, Christopher Columbus, Johnny Appleseed, a Paleontologist, a Chef, Pioneer Lady, Pilgrim Lady, Martha Washington and Betsy Ross.
Taylor, along with Steven Crawford, executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, will comprise the 2016 inductees into ECU’s Gene and Evelyn Keefer Educator’s Hall of Fame at 10:35 a.m., March 29, in the atrium of the Linscheid Library.
The induction ceremony is one of many activities on March 29. A ribbon-cutting and naming ceremony for the newly-remodeled Lanoy Education Building will take place at 9:30 a.m. that same day.
Teaching was in Taylor’s bloodstream at early age.
“I had a desire to be a teacher and didn’t seriously consider anything else,” Taylor said. “I had wonderful memories of my school years and always had a love and respect for my teachers.”
That carried over to the love of her students.
“I honestly loved my students and became very close to them,” said Taylor. “My expectations and goals for them were very high. Regardless of ability, I helped each child find success. Yes, teaching was a way of life!”
Taylor earned numerous awards, including Teacher of the Year four different times at Pickett-Center and Glenwood; Teacher of the Year for the Pontotoc County Teachers’ Association, Teacher of Excellence twice at Glenwood; The Ada News Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite Teacher; VIM (Very Important Member) for the Pontotoc Retired Educators’ Association (PREA), State Volunteer of the Year, representing PREA and Pioneer Educator Award for the PREA.
She earned a bachelor of science in education from ECU in 1964 and master’s in education (with certificates for reading specialist, learning disabilities and mental retardation) from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva in 1972.
Besides Glenwood and Pickett-Center, she had early-year teaching stints at Norman Public Schools and Cherokee Public Schools.
Crawford has been a tireless advocate of public education in the state and nation. He has served as the executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration since 2008.
With more than 35 years of educational experience, Crawford is a distinguished Oklahoma educator. He has over 25 years of experience as a superintendent in four school districts in Oklahoma, most recently serving as superintendent of Byng Public Schools from 2001-2008. He also superintendent stints at Roff, Shattuck and Moss.
Crawford has served as chairman of the Oklahoma Education Coalition, president of the Board of Directors of the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools, chairman of the Oklahoma Commission for Educational Leadership, president of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators and vice president of the National Council of Impacted Schools.
He has also served on the executive committee of the American Association of School Administrators.
Crawford was named OASA Superintendent of the Year in 1998 and was named OROS Pioneer in 2000. He received the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence in Public School Administration Award in 2008.
The Oklahoma Schools Advisory Council recognized Crawford for his outstanding contributions to Oklahoma Education in 2013 and was inducted into the Oklahoma Educator Hall of Fame that same year.
The Gene and Evelyn Keefer Educators Hall of Fame is sponsored by Janice Diamond and Paul Keefer, the children of Gene and Evelyn Keefer, to recognize ECU-prepared educators at any level who made a significant contribution to the field of education.
The Hall of Fame is dedicated to the Keefers and other parents like them who could not afford to go to college but made it a priority that their children have the opportunity.