By James Beaty
Will Rogers Elementary School teacher Sheila Ketchum says the best thing about teaching first grade is teaching students how to read.
Ketchum and an auditorium full of McAlester Public Schools teachers, administrators and staff in the Lucy Freeman Smith Center at McAlester High School heard Ketchum’s name read aloud Monday as the 2012-2013 MPS Teacher of the Year.
Ketchum accepted an award and bags full of prizes which went along with the Teacher of the Year honors. Her fellow teachers, who were at the school Monday for a professional day, gave her a rousing standing ovation as she stepped forward to accept the award.
She had made the comments about teaching her first grade students to read as part of a video presentation shown during the awards ceremony featuring individual segments on all six MPS Teacher of the Year Finalists.
“It’s what motivates me most in coming in every day,” Ketchum said during her video presentation.
In the video, she said she had told her students they could be included in it, so she called them all to the front of the room, leaving herself surrounded by plenty of smiling faces as the segment concluded.
As she accepted the award Monday, Ketchum told how she encouraged students who might be having difficulties in a particular area of their school work.
Ketchum said she tells them “If it’s tough, it’s worth working for.”
As the MPS Teacher of the Year, Ketchum will represent the school district during statewide Teacher of the Year competition. She will also have an opportunity, provided by MPS, to attend a national conference of her choice.
MPS 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year DeDe Beckner announced Ketchum’s name as the winner during the Monday ceremony, giving her a hug as she stepped forward to accept the honor.
Two previous winners were also involved in the program, with 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year Janice Parrott leading the flag salute and 2010-2011 winner Kelly Richards giving the invocation. MPS Superintendent Dr. Marsha Gore presented the welcome for the Monday ceremony, with Stephanie Holt and Dep. Superintendent Ronnie Martin also participating in the ceremony.
Ketchum has been teaching at MPS for 10 years. She started her teaching career at Lakewood Christian School, then taught for three years at Crowder Public Schools, where she won recognition as Teacher of the Year at CPS.
She graduated cum laude, or with honors, from East Central University in Ada, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a certification in early childhood education.
Other finalists for MPS Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013 who attended the Monday ceremony were Yvonne Allford, from McAlester High School; Kelly Byrd, Emerson Elementary; Cindy Clerk, Jefferson Early Childhood Center; William Higgins, William Gay Early Childhood Center and Amy Powers, Will Rogers Elementary.
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