2019-2020 Teacher of the Year Honorees

2019-2020 Site Teacher of the Year Honorees
Posted on 01/20/2020
2019-2020 Site Teacher of the Year Honorees

2019-2020 Site Teacher of the Year Honorees

Kari Gold
Kari Gold, Piedmont Early Childhood Center pre-kindergarten teacher, has been named the 2019 Piedmont Early Childhood Center Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Kari has taught for 18 years, 17 of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Kari is on the ECC Leadership Committee and serves as the Piedmont High School booster club Co-President. She was the 2009-2010 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year and was recognized as an OKC Thunder Teacher of the Game.

 

"Piedmont Early Childhood Center is proud to announce Mrs. Kari Gold as our first-ever Teacher of the Year," Jennifer Carver, Principal at Piedmont ECC, said. "Mrs. Gold embodies the perfect early childhood teacher. She is kind, caring, and patient. 

 

"Kari creates a safe learning environment where all children feel valued and special. She recognizes the importance of developing positive relationships with her students and their families. She has a passion for knowledge and strives to implement best practices in her classroom. 

 

"Mrs. Gold's classroom is full of students playing, laughing and experiencing the joy of learning. The quote, “It takes a big heart to shape little minds," describes Kari perfectly. She is making a difference in the lives of our smallest Wildcats, and we are honored to have her part of the ECC family."

 

Kari recently shared her passion for leading the next generation and how she creates educational opportunities for students to build confidence daily. 

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

I chose to teach as my profession because I wanted to make a lasting impression on my students. I want each student to have an eagerness to learn, share kindness, and feel accepted. Two of my inspirations are Nancy Cling, my first-grade teacher at Piedmont Elementary, and Dr. Joy Beaver, my college advisor at Southern Nazarene University.

 

What motivates you as an educator?

I am motivated knowing that the students in my classroom are the future. I strive to give them a firm foundation emotionally and academically. I create multiple opportunities for my students to build self-confidence and enjoy helping them to find happiness in themselves. 

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

My favorite way to motivate my students is by singing songs that are unique and never the same. My classroom is my broadway musical. 

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

I have learned to expect the unexpected, knowing each day will be different.

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher? 

I want my students to remember the love and smiles that I show each of them. I want them to remember that they will always have a special place in my heart, and to know that I learned how to be a better person because of their love and acceptance for me.

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher? 

This is a rewarding profession, so treat it as if you were someone's superhero. You just might change someone's life.

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose? 

Relationships

 

Why Piedmont? 

Many years ago, I attended kindergarten and first grade in Piedmont. As a child, my family moved often, and I attended many different schools. Piedmont always held a special place in my heart. I was in college when I met the love of my life who was from this little place I wanted to call home, Piedmont. This town and school district is more than just a place in Oklahoma. It is where my heart is - my husband Ryan, and my three children, Kenley, Gavin, Talon, as well as my students, and my friends.

Ashley Steggles

Ashley Steggles, Piedmont Elementary School second grade teacher, has been named the 2019 Piedmont Elementary School Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Ashley has taught for 9 years, all of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Ashley is a cheerleading coach in the community and has enjoyed that role for 11 years. She serves in Piedmont Elementary's Adventure Club, working to provide appreciation to teachers at her school site. She enjoys leading workshops for other educators on professional development days based on conferences she has attended regarding education. 

 

"Mrs. Steggles is a passionate educator that goes above and beyond to provide an exceptional learning experience for her students," Andrew Graham, Principal at Piedmont Elementary, said. "Her lessons are rigorous, engaging, and specifically designed to meet the needs of each student.

 

"Mrs. Steggles creates unique educational experiences for her students, like turning her classroom into a jungle adventure for the day. Most importantly, she builds exceptional relationships with her students. You will often see her attending student sporting events outside of school simply because she cares about who they are as a person. She loves her students and teaching. We are proud to call her our Site Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020." 

 

Ashley recently shared her passion for serving her students and fellow educators and how she focuses on making learning fun every day.

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a child. I always played school with my friends, their younger siblings, and my younger sister. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Mayleben, was one of my biggest inspirations when choosing education because it was one of my most memorable years. She took the time to create relationships and made learning fun. 

 

What motivates you as an educator?

I love seeing a student's spark for learning turn into a flame. I love creating fun and engaging lessons that produce an environment that makes school a place where students want to be.

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

I use enthusiasm when teaching and create out of the box experiences that help my students obtain high expectations. I push them to limits that they thought they could not reach. 

 

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

Relationships are one of the biggest parts of the learning process. Without creating relationships, it is difficult to reach students.

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher? 

I hope that my students remember me as a teacher that cared about and loved them. I hope they love coming to school and think that learning is fun.

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher? 

Teaching is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Also, it is okay to try new things that make you go outside of your comfort zone because that is when you will grow the most as an educator. 

 

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose? 

If I had to choose one of the Piedmont Focus words, I would choose relationships. Without relationships, you have nothing. I attend my students' games and performances outside of the classroom and have lunch with them in the cafeteria. I try to build relationships inside and outside of the classroom to show my students that I care about them. These relationships help students achieve high expectations in the classroom. 

 

Why Piedmont? 

I have always loved teaching in Piedmont because of the excellent leadership, relationships with coworkers, and the sense of community. 

 

 


Courtney Phillips

Courtney Phillips, Stone Ridge Elementary fourth grade teacher, has been named the 2019 Stone Ridge Elementary Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Courtney has taught for seven years, three of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Courtney is passionate about volunteering for the National Park Service's Junior Ranger program. This program teaches National Park visitors ages 5 through twelve about the plants and animals around them, and how to preserve these great resources for years to come. She loves to help children to explore the outdoors and understand the world around them.  

 

"Courtney Phillips is a dynamic educator who is a master at building student rapport," Debbie Caywood, Principal at Stone Ridge Elementary, said. "Mrs. Phillips gets to know the students in her class and can identify what each one brings to the classroom community. 

 

"She plans and executes interesting, active, and dynamic lessons using a variety of proven classroom strategies. The strong bonds that she builds serve as motivation for her students to be their best. They love being in her class because she is kind, loving, fun, and they know she truly cares about them. 

 

"Outside her classroom, she finds many ways to contribute to the building culture. She is a willing mentor, a cheerful volunteer and can often be found writing positive notes on displayed student work in all grade levels. She is a natural leader, and we are proud to have her represent Stone Ridge as our Teacher of the Year."

 

Courtney recently shared how she helps students realize their potential through building relationships, and why education has always been her calling. 

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

Choosing education was not a difficult decision for me, as it was always something that I felt called to do. I noticed at an early age that I felt very comfortable around children. I always enjoyed their thirst for learning about the world around them. 

 

After volunteering with the National Park Service's Junior Ranger program and teaching children about nature, I had never felt more reassured that God had made me be a teacher. I had many great educators throughout my educational career who showed me how rewarding and beneficial a career in education could be.

 

What motivates you as an educator?

I enjoy changing students' negative outlook about themselves, their work, or their school year. Allowing them to realize their potential as I see it so clearly, is what motivates me the most. 

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

I email photos of a student's successes in the classroom to their parents. Parents feel involved and informed, and the student can celebrate with more than just their teacher. 

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

Taking an interest in your students' lives and developing a rapport with them and their family is the foundation of their success for the year. A child's education takes a team. When the team is strong, the student will be better able to thrive.

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher? 

I hope that my students remember that I always knew what they were capable of, saw the best in them, and strived to help them see it too. 

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher? 

Becoming a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions that you can have. You often learn just as much about yourself as the students learn themselves.

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose? 

Relationships. Building relationships with your students and their parents is paramount in their educational year as this builds trust, reassurance, and comfortability with failures and successes in the classroom.

 

Why Piedmont? 

The Piedmont community was one that I felt had a great, personal connection to those around them. I enjoy being in a district that actively strives to recognize and involve teachers, students, and community members alike. While teaching my first year here in Piedmont, I vividly remember how excited I was to work in a community that is very much a family.

 


Shelli Smith

Shelli Smith, Northwood Elementary second grade teacher, has been named the 2019 Northwood Elementary Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Shelli has taught for 26 years, 14 of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Shelli is passionate about the community of Piedmont and enjoys attending as many of her students' activities as possible. She loves participating in community events and seeing her past, present, and future students serving others and experiencing activities around town.  

 

"Mrs. Smith has been teaching in Piedmont for 14 years. She has been at Northwood for the past 10 years." Jennifer Warner, Principal at Northwood Elementary, said. "Throughout her career, she has strived to not only help her students grow academically but also to grow as kind, thoughtful members of her classroom community. Mrs. Smith is always willing to go above and beyond for her students, colleagues, and the families of Northwood Elementary. We are proud to have her represent our school as our Teacher of the Year."

 

Shelli recently shared her passion for building relationships with her students and her school community and how she feels these relationships are vital to a positive learning environment. 

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. My greatest inspirations in becoming a teacher were my 6th-grade teacher, Mrs. Holman, and my high school math teacher, Mrs. Atkins.

 

What motivates you as an educator?

Watching my students grow and learn both academically and emotionally.

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

I motivate my students by building relationships with them and having fun. 

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

Every student deserves a fresh start every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Also, every child is someone's whole world.

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher? 

They are loved and respected.

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher? 

Be ready for the greatest, wildest ride of your life. Every day holds new beginnings.

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose? 

Relationships

 

Why Piedmont? 

My husband and I moved to Piedmont in December 2005 and immediately fell in love with the people and town. We were expecting our first child, and we knew this is where we wanted to be. Having grown up ourselves in small communities, we wanted that same feeling of home and community for our family. 

 

 


Amy Lennertz

Amy Lennertz, Piedmont Intermediate Spanish teacher, has been named the 2019 Piedmont Intermediate Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Amy has taught for eight years, four of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Amy has been recognized as a Featured Teacher in February 2016 and was an employee of the month at Piedmont Intermediate in the spring of this year. Amy is involved in Piedmont Schools Leadership Council and has served in the leadership group at Piedmont Intermediate over the past two years. She is very involved with her church, First Baptist Church Piedmont, including teaching women's Bible studies, vacation Bible school, participating in mission trips, and singing in the choir. 

 

"Amy is an extremely dedicated and hardworking teacher," Zac Selph, Piedmont Intermediate Principal, said. "She is always creating engaging lesson plans that keep students interested and challenged every day. Piedmont Intermediate is honored to have Amy Lennertz as our Teacher of the Year."

 

Amy recently shared how she strives to develop meaningful connections with students and colleagues and how her students inspire her.

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

When I was 3 years old, my family moved to Ecuador. My first teacher was my older sister, Kathie. I loved learning lessons from her because she made things fun! I would play school every day with my dolls and stuffed animals. My love for teaching stayed with me as I pursued teaching opportunities, including teaching Sunday school (I started in middle school), working at summer camps, and working with teachers.

 

What motivates you as an educator?

My students inspire me every day. They come into my Spanish class excited about learning and able to do anything! We laugh a lot in my classroom, so there is a lot of joy. I love when my students share their "story" through the learning activities, and when we make meaningful connections with each other. 

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

I like to give them a voice and a choice. I want them to relate the content to their world because that allows learning to become more meaningful. My students impress me every day with what they can learn and create. 

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

I will never stop learning! Every day I can learn something new from my students, and alter my plans and expectations to meet their individual needs. 

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?  

That I loved them!! And in my class, they felt heard, understood, and safe. 

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher? 

Get involved with teaching kids in some form to give yourself valuable experience. Visit classrooms to experience the joys and frustrations to see if it is a good fit for you. Also, don't forget to listen to the students. It is more about their learning experience than it is about what we want to teach. 

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose? 

I would choose the word Relationships. I truly believe that students and teachers desire connections. My goal each day is to make each student feel loved, and I look for ways to connect with them and with my coworkers as well. 

 

Why Piedmont? 

I love working at Piedmont Schools. I appreciate how our leaders invest in making our school a good place to work. I appreciate the opportunities for my children to learn and grow in the district. I feel that this is a caring community trying hard to maintain a "family" feel even though we are growing so much.


Betsy Roark

Betsy Roark, Middle School of Piedmont Special Education teacher, has been named the 2019 Middle School of Piedmont Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Betsy has taught for 12 years, three of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Betsy is the cheerleading sponsor at the Middle School of Piedmont. With her family, she leads a foundation in memory of her daughter, Grace, who passed away a couple of years ago. The foundation, Grace Changes Everything, focuses on promoting her daughter's love of inclusion, doing good deeds, and helping others. Grace Changes Everything partners with a youth homeless shelter to provide meals for children, and they serve in the shelter's clothing closet regularly. 

 

"Mrs. Roark is a strong leader for Piedmont Middle School," Mike Smith, Middle School of Piedmont Principal, said. "She is always willing to help out in any capacity. She is innovative in finding ways to reach and connect with her students, and she cheers them onto success"

 

Betsy recently shared how meaningful connections and acceptance motivate her daily at the Middle School of Piedmont. 

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

My youngest brother struggled so much in school. Each day he would come home crying or upset. I knew there had to be a different way to approach education. No child should dread or hate school. School should be a safe place to grow and learn about the world, not a place of dread due to struggling. It was a challenge for me to try to change education for those types of students especially. My late daughter, Grace Roark, also struggled in many areas. Being able to see educational struggles through the eyes of a parent, and being a parent who teaches special education, changed the way I teach my students. It also changed the way I connect with parents. 

 

What motivates you as an educator?

The students motivate me. I love seeing the moment a student "gets it" and the light comes on. Striving to teach concepts differently or using different modalities is my passion.

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

Praise and positive reinforcement work wonders. I also try to connect with students. As adults, we sometimes forget what it's like to be a middle schooler. Everyone has a story. Once you can make a connection and show someone that you care, the world is a whole new place!

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

I get the wonderful opportunity to teach students from all walks of life and at different levels of learning. My students have taught me way more than I have ever taught them. Acceptance is probably one of the biggest lessons learned. 

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher? 

I hope they remember that I care and think that they can accomplish anything they want. 

 

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher?

Do it!

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose? 

Relationships because good relationships with your students are so important. 

 

 

Why Piedmont? 

Originally I came to Piedmont because my youngest child wanted to attend school here, but I have stayed because of the people. We had only been in the district for a couple of weeks when my daughter Grace passed away. Although I hardly knew anyone, and Grace didn't attend Piedmont, my family was embraced and loved by the people here. We received flowers, food, gift cards, notes, letters, and most importantly, love from the school and community. My daughter, who is a student at the high school, was embraced by her teachers, but Mrs. Earnest and Mr. Antwine went above and beyond to make sure she was (and still is) okay. You can't beat that.

 


Paisley Basham

Paisley Roark, Piedmont High School English III, and Modern Music and Society teacher, has been named the 2019 Piedmont High School Teacher of the Year and is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Piedmont District Teacher of the Year. Paisley has taught for five years, all of which have been at Piedmont Public Schools.

 

Paisley works with Piedmont High School Book Club and, this year, she has started working with the students in the Native American Club. She also uses her background in public speaking to assist in one-on-one feedback sessions with each of our valedictorians before their speeches at graduation. 

 

"Ms. Basham is the ultimate professional with so much love for kids," Brent Antwine, Principal of Piedmont High School, said. "She reaches all spectrums of students to make PHS better. Her passion for her classes is evident in her interactions with her students. Ms. Basham is a true asset to PHS."

 

Paisley shared how teaching has given purpose to her life and how she loves to help students gain a deeper understanding of their own beliefs. 

 

Why did you choose to teach as a profession? Did someone inspire you to choose education? 

My children inspired me. Every time I went to an "Open House" event at Piedmont High School, I felt a little jealous when I would walk through the classrooms and see the excitement of a new year. My mother and grandmother were also both teachers. I think the way my own mom "taught" me my entire life, inside and outside of the classroom, inspired me in ways I didn't even realize. 

 

What motivates you as an educator?

Teaching English III, I enjoy seeing my students make real-world connections from the literature in our curriculum. As we progress through each year, I see them realize that the text we just read and discussed from 350 B.C., 1925 or 1953 is more than just a story, and lessons and skills in the text directly relate to their lives. Helping my students to see that ELA is all about communication and connection with other human beings is paramount to me.

 

What is your favorite way to motivate your students to do their best work?

I work to and enjoy getting to know all my students. When I know my students as individuals, it's easy to focus on their strengths, find the right questions to ask and encourage curiosity. Including discussion, play, and arts-based assignments allow students to not only be successful but also to learn on a deeper level while fostering critical thinking skills. 

 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the classroom?

The gravity and value of mutual respect and empathy are driven home to me every year. Respect between my students and myself daily is key to a productive and enjoyable classroom. Building and maintaining a foundation with each child that includes trust, empathy, accountability, and respect is essential. 

 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher? 

I hope to impress upon them the importance of finding joy in learning new things throughout the rest of their lives. I hope to demonstrate the value and viability of doing all things in love, even when it's difficult. I hope they leave my classroom with a higher value placed on original thought and critical thinking, and with a deeper understanding of their own mind, thoughts, and beliefs. 

 

What advice would you share with someone interested in becoming a teacher?

Teaching was not my original profession or life goal. I worked in the field of communications for many years. I was drawn to teaching because I wanted to spend my time on the planet doing something really valuable on a daily basis. I didn't understand that teaching is truly a calling. If you think you want to teach, that must be fully understood. I do not doubt that what I do now, each day, has a lasting impact and is time and a life well spent. 

 

If you had to choose one of our six "Piedmont Focus" words to describe yourself as a teacher, which one would you choose?

Relationships, but I really want to choose communication, too.

 

Why Piedmont?

I grew up in Piedmont and attended school here from Kindergarten at Piedmont Original through high school graduation. I lived in OKC for some time and moved back to Piedmont so that both of my sons could attend school in this district. I love living and teaching in the same community. I get to build relationships, not only with individual students and colleagues but with entire families in our community.

 

 

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