In 2012, Lowrey Elementary School honored three teachers in different classroom grades as Teachers of the Year: Ella Proctor, Karla Kelley and Jennifer Swafford.
A decade ago, Swafford started her career teaching math at Lowrey.
“I enjoy teaching because of the interaction I have with the students,” Swafford said. “They make my job interesting and different every day.”
Working with students has unexpected moments at times; as most people know, kids can say anything.
“I have to admit that sometimes, I learn things from them, and I never know what that might be,” she said.
A desire to take away the fear of math motivated her to want to teach the often-challenging subject.
“I became a math teacher because I wanted to make math understandable for my students,” Swafford explained. “I have always found math not to be too difficult, and I wanted to be able to pass that along to my students so they could understand it and make it as easy for them as possible.”
The extended family aspect of rural schools is a perk new teachers sometimes don’t expect.
“It is great to teach at Lowrey, because we are like a family and we work very well together,” she said.
Being selected Teacher of the Year is always a pleasant surprise.
“When I found out I was chosen as a Teacher of the Year, I was humbled and honored,” Swafford said.
She offers words of encouragement to new teachers.
“My advice for new teachers would be to have fun with what you do, because students pick up on how you feel,” she said. “If you’re having fun, so will they. I would also encourage new teachers to be diversified in what they can teach, because it never hurts to be able to teach different subjects.”
Kelley teaches third grade at Lowrey, where she’s been employed 17 years. Her first 10 years she taught at Grand View Elementary.
“I’ve always loved kids,” Kelley said. “And [I enjoy] being a part of the kids’ learning success as they grow from the beginning of school to the year to the end of the school year.”
Kelley is a graduate of Northeastern State University.
When she found out she’d been chosen as a Teacher of the Year, she was excited and honored.
“All the teachers at Lowrey work hard all year long, and I feel they all deserve to receive the award,” she said.
She really appreciates her peers.
“The faculty, staff, and support personnel are very tight-knit,” she said. “We help each other out whenever needed.”
Kelley thinks Lowrey is a great school.
“Lowrey is the perfect size [for a] school,” she said. “The classroom student ratio is perfect in size, and you have more time to work one-on-one with students.”
Proctor was unable to sit for an interview due to a death in the family.
Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation awards $30K
Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation recently awarded more than $30,000 to TPS teachers for education projects.
Tibbets: Art an important cultural element
The incomparable beauty of nature inspires Dennis Tibbits to paint.
“I believe my love of the Illinois River, especially the Barren Fork, has greatly influenced the type of material I prefer doing,” said Tibbits.
His love of landscapes – “riverscapes,” as he calls them – began about the same time he started floating the river in the 1970s as a student at Northeastern State University.
Tibbits, an instructor and clinical supervisor of Speech and Language Pathology at NSU, graduated from Stilwell High School in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree from NSU in 1975 and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas in 1976, both in speech-language pathology. He came full-circle when he took a teaching job at NSU in 2007, after doing clinical speech pathology for more than 30 years.
In the early ‘70s, he did his first oil paintings and three of them hang in his house today.
Senior Citizens dance makes mark in history
It was nearly 14 years ago when Charles Scott and Dorothy Crawford were sitting across the table from each other having lunch at the Tahlequah Senior Citizens Center, when Charles spoke up and said, “I think I’ll go see the mayor and city council and get a senior citizens dance started.”
Bright colors in for spring fashion
The occasional snowflake may still be floating down from the sky, but bright colors and textures are making local boutiques and stores look like spring has already arrived.
Bright colors, loose-weave accessories in scarves, jackets and vests and dresses are beginning to replace winter items in display windows and on the racks.
Neon and leopard prints are always on hand at Obsession Boutique, said owner Amanda Harris.
Floral and tribal prints, corals, melon and mint green and sequins for bling are beginning to brighten the store on cute sundresses, skinny jeans, leggings, and jeggings, said Harris.
- Polar Plunge raises thousands for Special Olympics More than 110 participants from local schools and organizations took part in Saturday’s Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics at Arrowhead Resort on the Illinois River. They raised a total of $15,400 for the athletes to buy uniforms and help with travel and lodging for the Oklahoma Special Olympics in May. Participating were groups from Cherokee Nation, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah Police Department, Tahlequah Public Schools, and others.
Ross shares gospel in variety of settings
Pastor Sean Ross uses a variety of classes to teach the word of God to his congregation, whether at church, a nursing home or elsewhere.
“Our church is small and precious. We enjoy singing the old hymns, as well as new praise. We are looking to grow in the Lord and in his favor,” Ross said.
Light Workers heal human energy
Light Workers are healers, but not in the traditional medical sense. They heal human energy.
Tinsley’s family an inspiration for teaching
Lessons from life on the farm are teaching tools for Greenwood’s newest Teacher of the Year.
Second-grade teacher Kym Tinsley’s family is important. In the summer, she works on Canyon Ridge Farm, owned by her parents.
“I use the experiences from the farm life in my classroom on a daily basis, through writing, reading, and math,” she said.
She has a happy, colorful and friendly classroom. She recently greeted two children at the classroom door with a smile. As she interacted with them, asking questions about a story, they searched for clues and find answers.
Tinsley rewarded each girl with a compliment, based on their answers and asked more questions. The girls searched for answers once more.
For Tinsley, children are definitely the best part of teaching,
Grass fire erupts near Welling
Members of the Tahlequah and Welling fire departments knocked down a grass fire on Saturday, Feb. 15 on Bright Star Drive. The blaze threatened buildings and blackened several acres before firefighters were able to contain it.
Works o' art
Elizabeth Price views a display of clay pots at the Spider Gallery during the Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation ”Uncorked” Wine & Cheese Tasting Fundraiser Thursday, Feb. 13.
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- Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation awards $30K