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ADA – Two East Central University graduates – Mara Richards and Susan Rindal – are two of 12 nominees for the State of Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Award, it was recently announced.
The state’s teacher of the year will be announced at the Oklahoma State Fair later this month in Oklahoma City. The winner will take part in the national teacher of the year competition and serve as Oklahoma’s ‘ambassador of teaching’, according to Regional University System of Oklahoma Regent Richard Ogden.
Richards received a master’s degree in library media from ECU after completing her bachelor’s degree in biology from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She teaches at Durant Middle School in Durant.
ECU also graduated Rindal, who earned a master’s degree in reading education. She teaches at Vanoss Elementary School in Vanoss.
“At ECU, we have adopted a continuous improvement model that utilizes input from parents, employers and other stakeholders, as well as assessment data to ensure our programs are effective,” said Brenda Walling, dean of ECU’s College of Education and Psychology. “Mara and Susan’s successes in the school library and classroom show our graduates are prepared for the challenges of teaching. They continue ECU’s long, proud history of preparing outstanding teachers.”
Alums that have gone through the ECU program have ultimately been named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. They include: Elizabeth Smith, elementary education with a concentration in physical education, from Byng (1993 ECU graduate); Stephanie Canada, health, physical education major with a concentration in recreation/exercise science, from Shawnee (1995 ECU graduate); George Abshire, math education, from Jenks (1997 ECU graduate); and Pat Kellogg Roller, science educator named teacher of the year in 1978.
Most of this year’s nominees actually graduated from the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) universities, the state’s traditional teacher education schools.
The Regional University System of Oklahoma is composed of ECU, University of Central Oklahoma, Northeastern State, Northwestern Oklahoma State, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Southwestern Oklahoma State.
“Seven of the 12 nominees earned degrees from one of our six universities,” said Ogden. “Since voters included these schools in our constitution as a vital part of the state’s vision for the future, we have recognized the importance of education and of dynamic teachers for Oklahoma’s growth and well-being.”
Some 87 percent of the system’s graduates stay in Oklahoma and return almost $10 in benefits for every $1 of state resources spent on the students’ education, Ogden said.
“That’s an enviable return on investment. Leading the list of nominees shows the investment produces great results for the children of our state and the future of our people,” said Ogden.
Also nominated from RUSO institutions were: 
  • Therese Rawlinson, received bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master of education degree in reading education from Northeastern State University. She teaches at Jane Phillips Elementary in Bartlesville.
  • Gentry Guinn earned bachelor’s degree in education from Northeastern State and teachers at Porter High School in Porter.
  • Tera Landrum received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Northeastern State and teaches at Oak Crest Elementary in Broken Arrow.
  • Chelsea Roberts earned a master’s degree in history from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She teaches at Woodward Middle School in Woodward.
  • Barbara Bayless received a master’s degree in reading from the University of Central Oklahoma. She teaches at James Griffith Intermediate School in Choctaw.



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