James LeGrand, Altus High School history teacher, has been named the 2013-2014 Altus Public Schools Teacher of the Year. He has been teaching for the past 19 years, 10 of the last 19 in the Altus district.
LeGrand aspires to be the type of teacher he would want his own children to have. He says, “A great teacher is like an artist, one who can illuminate, inspire and create. The classroom is my canvas…” James LeGrand is a 2014 Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History National History Teacher of the Year Nominee (state winners to be chosen in May of 2014). He has also been selected as a 2013 Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher Seminar Recipient, as well as 2013 Horace Mann-Abraham Lincoln Teacher Fellowship Award Winner and 2012 Catherine B Reynolds Civil War Washington Teacher Fellowship Award Winner.
Altus Junior High Teacher of the Year, Olya Coffin was chosen as district Top 3 Finalist. Coffin graduated from Perm State University in Russia with a Master’s degree in English. She is in her sixth year of teaching English at Altus Junior High. Coffin states, “To be a teacher, to me, is to be a student. I pray that as long as I teach, I never cease to learn.”
Tamra Kerr, Will Rogers Pre-K teacher, was also selected as a Top 3 finalist. She has spent the last 21 years in early childhood education. Kerr began teaching in Altus in 1993 where she has taught 2nd grade, Kindergarten, and Pre-K. “Imagine walking into a place where you feel safe, warm, secure, and loved, a place where it is okay to make mistakes. This is the type of climate I strive to provide for my young students every day… I believe (Pre-K) is the perfect time for children to learn to love school…” says Kerr
Altus Intermediate School selected Joanne Lee as their 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Lee began her teaching career at Altus Intermediate School in 2006 teaching 5th grade math, and has remained there ever since. When asked what teaching means to her, Joanne replies, “I love to teach! I believe a teacher has the ability to influence and touch a child’s life.” She says, “It is a privilege to walk in those doors each day…”
Sara Burgener, Kindergarten teacher, is the Teacher of the Year for Rivers Elementary. Burgener has been a Kindergarten teacher at Rivers for the past 5 years. She is also an adjunct Biology teacher at WOSC. Sara Burgener was a 2013 Teacher Character Education Award Winner. She says of teaching, “ I love having a job where I get to fill so many roles and make an impact on so many lives.”
Roosevelt Elementary’s 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year is Chanet Huckaby. Huckaby is currently a 3rd grade reading teacher, but has previously taught Title I reading, P.E. and 5th grade. Chanet states, “Teaching, to me, means love. If love and understanding are not communicated to my students the material I need them to learn is lost.”
Ronna Cross, P.E. teacher, has been chosen as Sunset Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. She began teaching P.E. at Sunset in 1993 and has remained in that position for the past 20 years. Cross believes, “The most important thing I would like for my students to get out of my class is that fitness is a life-long way of life that they must practice all of their lives. I feel setting a good example and promoting what I teach will help each one reach this goal.”
Washington Elementary honored Vicki Scarborough as the Washington Teacher of the Year. Vicki has been teaching for the past 15 years and has spent the last 16 in Altus. She notes that her greatest challenge as a teacher is, “to help my students discover their value and worth. The key to their future is to love and respect themselves which lays the foundation to love and respect others.”
Altus Public Schools honored the building teachers of the year and announced the district teacher of the year at the January Board of Education meeting on Monday.