By RENEE FITE
Keys High School’s current Teacher of the Year, Mandi Jordan, always wanted to be an educator. Her fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Flud, was her inspiration.
“She was always very loving and patient and made me enjoy school,” said Jordan.
A Checotah High School graduate, Jordan has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education and a Master of Science in Library Media and Information Technology.
“I have always enjoyed teaching. I have an extreme amount of patience, which works well in this profession,” Jordan said.
Now in her 10th year at Keys, Jordan teaches Algebra I, the math of finance, yearbook, special education and regular education, and serves as the elementary math coach. She’s the high school yearbook sponsor, Special Olympics coach, junior class/prom sponsor, and elementary math coach.
She has also taught elementary reading, math, social studies, and science, and high school English. The first two years of her career in education, she taught at Kenwood Elementary.
It was through teaching special education that Jordan discovered she enjoyed teaching math a lot more than teaching English.
“Math is something students will use the rest of their lives. It is useful and life-applicable,” she said. “I try to make it apply to their lives as much as possible. In algebra, using real-life examples to help them understand the concept is very important.”
She wants her students to have a good work ethic and great character.
“I make sure and say every student’s name at least once a class period,” she said. “I enjoy building relationships with my students. Sometimes, the only thing positive a child will hear all day comes from [his or her] teacher.”
Jordan found out she was Teacher of the Year at the end-of-the year teacher dinner. She received a plaque and $100 from Bank of Commerce.
“I feel very honored because I have amazing co-workers who also deserve the honor,” Jordan said.
At Keys, she likes being able to know more of the staff and students.
“I love teaching in a small school. You really get to know the kids well and KHS has some of the best people to work with,” she said.
And there is more opportunity to get to know parents, whom she encourages to “be involved in your student’s life. Make them accountable for their actions.”
One perk she values about teaching is family time. She enjoys having the summers off to spend with her two girls, ages 1 and 5, and husband, Mark Jordan, a teacher at Tahlequah High School. They’ve been married nine years. She enjoys reading, sewing, and baking.
They enjoy Tahlequah because it still has the “small-town” feel.
“The lake and the river offer many fun things to do, as well as all of the unique festivals,” she said.
A member of Cornerstone Fellowship for 16 years, she teaches pre-kindergarten there.
Jordan believes a good teacher can relate to all her students, and make a connection with each student.
“A good teacher realizes every student learns differently, and teaches and present the material in ways everyone can understand,” Jordan said.
To new teachers, her encouragement is to be patient and fair.
“Learn that what works for some doesn’t work for all. Find a way to reach every student,” Jordan said.