There are a lot of tough jobs in Lawton Public Schools, but one of the toughest is serving on the committees for our Annual Celebration when we announce our Champions for Children, Friends of LPS, Rookie of Year, and our Teacher of the Year. The jobs are so tough because the committees must choose from among our all-stars. It is the one night each year that we celebrate the best of LPS. Instead of holding the event at Central Middle School, however, Tomlinson Middle School will host this year’s Celebration. The evening starts at 6:00 PM, April, 23rd (this Tuesday).
As is customary, last year’s LPS Teacher of the Year (TOY), Michelle Churchwell, will pass the red apple on to this year’s talented winner. In addition to being chosen as our Teacher of the Year, Ms. Churchwell has received numerous other statewide honors this year, including recognition from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. This year’s finalists are Leslie Brennan (Pat Henry), Ashley Ghrayyeb (Crosby Park), Jennifer Hanna (MHS), Brandie Knutson (TMS), Amanda Mack (Whittier), William Spannagel (Hugh Bish), and Sara Ward (Woodland Hills). The question we hear most often from the committee: “Do we have to pick only one?”
In addition to choosing the TOY, LPS also selects a Rookie of the Year from among our first-year teachers. Don’t let the term “rookie” fool you, though. They may be new, but their talent and work-ethic have set them apart, even among our great LPS staff. They have already demonstrated the acuity, professionalism, and effectiveness of veteran teachers. Woodland Hills’ own Katie Caughron took this top honor last year, beating out a field of impressive contenders. She will pass on the green apple to one of these worthy finalists: Douglas A. Christian (EHS), Eva Dye (Eisenhower ES), Jeffery Elbert (LHS), Kim Ellsworth (Sullivan Village), Melissa Goddard (Freedom), Brya Hannabass (Pioneer Park); Cody Hilliary (EMS); Ginger Hoffman (Adams), Mary Kinnamore (Ridgecrest), Samantha Leonard (CMS), Ciara Lohman (Woodland Hills), Michael Pooschke (MHS), and Gina Soto (Lincoln).
Champions for Children are the men and women who, regardless of their position in the district, have changed children’s lives. This award is unique because fellow educators nominate them for this great distinction, and the only requirement is that they work with LPS. They come from all walks of life and fill all sorts of positions within the district, but they share such a devotion to children that they stand out as Champions, garnering letters of praise and the support of their colleagues. All Champions for Children should be truly humbled to know that their peers promoted them for such an honor. This year’s Champions for Children are Brenda Baldwin, (B.R.I.D.G.E.), Lorrie Barnes (MHS), Kurt Bingham (Cleveland), Lori Cruz (Woodland Hills), Courtney Harter (Freedom), Kimberly Jones (MHS), Jay Lehr (Gateway/B.R.I.D.G.E.), Cynthia Martin (Adams), Mark Mattingly (Douglass), Barbara Williams (Ridgecrest).
Finally, we will honor two Friends of LPS on Tuesday night. In recent years, we have tried to choose someone who has quietly worked behind-the-scenes to make LPS great. That person is Rachelle Cooper, a young lady who has volunteered nearly full-time at Hugh Bish. We also choose an organization that has provided a special service to LPS staff or students, and this year it is the Lawton Interdenominational Ministers Alliance (LIMA).
Several local businesses, organizations, and individuals have donated generous gifts and prizes for our various winners. Community support for our teachers and students has always been impressive, but in recent years, it just keeps getting better. Thank you in advance for contributing. It will be a great show, a night celebrating the best of The Best in the Southwest. Please join our Celebration: 6:00 PM, Tomlinson Middle School, April 23rd.