EVERYDAY HEROES: Admin uses talents to serve teachers, students

DeAnn Mashburn has worked at the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education for nine years. She loves being able to use her expertise to help teachers to better their own skills in the classroom.

DeAnn Mashburn is executive director of Human Resources and Secondary education at Tahlequah Public Schools. Her life path has always led her to serve others by teaching.

Since she was a child, she knew she wanted to be an educator.

"I have really enjoyed it. I was a teacher when I was born. Every role I've ever had, I've loved. I love the teachers, I love the kids, I just enjoyed the difference that we make in students lives and in our community to have educated children come out and be productive," said Mashburn.

She has served in education for over 30 years, 17 of which she spent in a classroom.

She spent 10 years as an assistant principal, and has worked at the TPS Board of Education office for the past nine years.

Mashburn is originally from Coweta, but she was drawn to Tahlequah because she received her education from NSU.

Upon graduating, she worked as a teacher in Norman, but she returned to Tahlequah to earn her master's degree.

"In the role I serve, it's multifaceted. I'm on the human resources side. I help with all the hiring processes. I supervise personnel that go through payroll. I supervise enrollment for students who are coming in. In HR, I help and assist when we work with our teachers on disciplinary issues. We have roughly 500 employees," she said.

Currently, it is difficult to find teachers who are certified in certain areas, especially mathematics and science. The biggest challenge has been hiring these specialty classes in the middle and high schools.

To attract new teachers, the district accepts applications for emergency certifications. Currently, 20 teachers have been certified alternatively in the district, and Mashburn said they have been tremendous assets.

"We will recommend them, and they will apply for the alternative certification program. They give them the coursework, and they'll take different courses, such as classroom management and pedagogy," she said.

Some are able to get in by first applying as a paraprofessional.

She works closely with NSU to recruit teachers to the district.

"They are wonderful and help us. We have mentor teachers assigned to them," said Mashburn.

For Mashburn, making the adjustment to administration was difficult because she missed working with children.

"I never wanted to get out of the classroom. Then an opportunity arose to become the middle school principal, and I did that. I loved the teachers, I loved the kids. Then an opportunity arose here," she said. "After three months, I turned to [Lisa] Presley [then superintendent] and I told her, 'You put me in the wrong place. I got to be with kiddos every day.' She encouraged me to think about making an impact on the whole district. When I thought of that, if I can use my strengths to help us have better teachers, that's going to help everyone."

Throughout the pandemic, Mashburn has faced her own challenges, from staffing, to helping the superintendent with other matters. She continues to work to serve the community.

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