McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 14, 2014

MPS announces Teacher of the Year

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — The McAlester Public Schools has awarded Teacher of the Year to April Burns.

Burns was named Teacher of the Year during the 2014 Teacher of the Year Presentation Ceremony by last year’s winner Shelia Ketchum.

The event was held at the S. Arch Auditorium Friday morning.

Burns teaches high school algebra and is also the Lady Buffalo’s basketball coach.

There were three other candidates for the award including Gene Dalmont and Caroline Miller, from McAlester High School, and Margie McElhaney from Puterbaugh Middle School.

After Burns received her award she said she didn’t write an acceptance speech because she didn’t expect to win. She thanked her husband and her parents “and the teachers and coaches who made a difference in my life.”

The award was given after a humorous video was shown of each of the candidates watching as an interviewer asked students questions about each teacher.

But awards weren’t the only topic of discussion during the meeting.

Before the award was given, MPS Superintendent Marsha Gore discussed the March 31 rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol sponsored by the Oklahoma Education Coalition.

Gore said she encouraged teachers, friends and families to attend the rally and if there are enough teachers signed up to attend the rally, she would close the schools that day.

She said legislators understand people who go talk to them or who give them money.

“Lets go talk to them,” Gore said.

She said 40 teachers have committed to attend but she would like to see many more.

Then Gore and MPS Business Manager Brent Grilliot told the group about the $28 million bond initiative.

Gore told the crowd that she researched newspapers at the library and learned about an incident in 1919 after the first McAlester public school building burned down.

She said she read in an article that while community members were deciding how to raise money for a new school building, McAlester’s J.G. Puterbaugh stood up and said “Lets pass a bond.” And the first school bond was passed for $250,000 which built the old McAlester High School building.

The building was reported to be reveled in the state for its modern equipment and building design, Gore said.

“95 years later we are asking the people to vote for a bond for school building that again rivals any in the state.”

Grillot and Gore encouraged the audience members to vote on the bond and to ask friends and family members to vote also.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at