Oklahoma Stories

2021 SKIE Awards: Regional Awardees Announced

January 2022

The SKIE (Supporting K20 Innovative Educators) Awards, sponsored by Oklahoma's electric cooperatives, announced with six regional awardees, each recie

The SKIE (Supporting K20 Innovative Educators) Award celebrates educators or teams of educators across the state who have demonstrated the ability to link student learning with the innovative use of technology and the K20 IDEALS (k20center.ou.edu/about/ideals). The awards are sponsored by Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives. Six regional awardees have been selected and each will recieve a trophy and $1,000.

Central Region

Crystallyn GuestCrystallyn Guest
Environmental & Physical Science
Northwest Classen High School
Oklahoma City Public Schools

Crystallyn Guest’s love of education began as a student when she worked as a teacher’s aide and tutor. Now, she partners with several outside collaborators, including the Health Occupations Students of America, Habitat for Humanity, and the Dallas World Aquarium, to bring authentic learning to students in many classrooms. In her own classroom, she gives students real-life issues to solve, keeping them curious and engaged. Guest’s projects include a rocket lab where students create model cars and rockets capable of traveling 15-20 feet, an Earth Week project where students make a plan to reduce, reuse, or recycle materials on their own, and a putt-putt project where students use integers to design and build a mini-golf field with paths and obstacles. Students also participate in personalized reflections and exams to help them understand what areas they’ve mastered and where their opportunities for growth lie.

SE Region

Carrie Miller-DeBoerCarrie Miller-DeBoer
6th-8th Grade STEM
Shawnee Middle School
Shawnee Public Schools

For over 25 years, Carrie “Doc MD” Miller-DeBoer has immersed learners in hands-on learning experiences. Before having her own classroom, she taught in museums, laboratories, and the great outdoors. Doc began her career as an aquatic ecologist studying plankton in lakes, rivers, and oceans; later, she recognized her own passion for teaching and sharing discovery through STEM. She especially loves finding ways to connect her classroom with the community in a way that inspires 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students to pursue careers in STEM fields. “One of my most powerful moments was listening to a student with cerebral palsy share his story as part of one of our first projects—designing and building a prototype of a device to help a patient with one symptom of their disability. Because a special education colleague shared her expertise, I am able to use STEM to privilege student voices and promote self-advocacy and empathy,” Miller-DeBoer says. “The problem that students are asked to solve with their design is no longer just another assignment, it is a way to help a person with real needs.”

NE Region

Chris LarcadeChris Larcade
Speech and Communications
Muldrow High School
Muldrow Public Schools

Chris Larcade’s class motto is “progress, not perfection”: “If we’re not making mistakes, then we’re not doing anything—the only lesson that is being learned is how to avoid problems, how to avoid adversity, how to avoid challenges,” Larcade says. To this end, he strives to immerse his students in projects that encourage creativity while creating an atmosphere of physical and emotional safety. This gives his students the confidence to take risks without fear of failure. Larcade spearheads the “READ to LEAD” program, in which participants create fun and engaging videos that promote the importance of literacy in elementary students. This year alone, students have contributed over 200 hours of community service to these programs. “My passion is to inspire students to take ownership of their education, hope for a brighter future, develop the confidence to pursue their goals, and equip them to succeed in their academic pursuits,” Larcade says.

Tulsa Area Region

Zena LewisZena Lewis
7th Grade Geography
Owasso 7th Grade Center
Owasso Public Schools

As a geography teacher, Zena Lewis envisions her classroom as a ship with her at the helm, dropping anchor for students to explore and learn every day. She encourages her students to think bigger than their classroom, school, and town. As she states, “We are all inextricably linked to one another on ‘Spaceship Earth.’” Lewis uses virtual reality headsets in her classroom for her students to explore ancient Rome, and similar projects see students witnessing the effects of ocean pollution, exploring a shipwreck with a marine biologist in the South Pacific, and taking a field trip to Tulsa’s Greenwood District. One project in collaboration with the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education invites students to study the Tulsa Race Massacre’s impacts on the demographics of Tulsa and surrounding communities like Owasso. Students draft and distribute surveys to their teachers, administrators, and peers to study inclusion and diversity. Then, they develop initiatives for improvement. “I teach all students with dignity and passion,” Lewis says. “Seeing growth mentally, emotionally, and socially is paramount to reaching my students, and the lessons that we learn don’t stay within the walls of my classroom.”

SW Region

Angela LewisAngela Lewis
5th Grade Math and Science
Newcastle Elementary School
Newcastle Public Schools

After 23 years of teaching, Angela Lewis still believes hers is the best job on Earth. This year, in particular, teaching each and every student to their potential has been tough. Lewis explains: “Retrospectively, students completing distance learning during COVID quarantines caused more inequalities in education than we imagined.” When returning to in-person instruction, Lewis made sure to give her students equitable, one-on-one instruction. Her biggest challenge is to bring all students back to grade level—or above it. Working one-on-one, Lewis boosts students’ learning and differentiates her lessons per student through programs like eSpark and Legends of Learning. She keeps students engaged through problem-based projects like her pasta car unit, where students work in groups to create prototype cars out of pasta. Student groups do their own research online, create blueprints, design and redesign prototypes, learn through trial and error, collect test data to evaluate their most successful designs, and ultimately present their findings to their classmates. She believes strongly in creating real-world connections for students as they learn. As a result, Lewis’ students have seen test score gains of 20-30 points over the course of a year.

NW Region

Layce RussellLacye Russel
6th-12th Grade Art and Photography
Oklahoma Bible Academy, Enid

Lacye Russell’s classroom is covered in her students’ fingerprints. It is decorated with a collaborative wall mural of the school’s mascot (a Trojan) holding a paint palette, award plaques and newspaper clippings of previous students’ achievements, and lots of colorful 2D and 3D art. Russel’s teaching philosophy is to enrich students’ learning with a sense of ownership over their art. She focuses on making sure students do not rely on magazines or internet research for visual inspiration. Instead, they generate independent ideas in personal sketchbooks. Students even set up and photograph their own art inspiration in the form of still life and portrait reference photos. Russel’s “camera days” encourage students to learn how they can create effective backdrops, lighting, and composition. She also teaches her students how to use their artistic talents to give to the community. “Many of my students spend hours volunteering for our school’s theater department in helping build sets or paint artwork, face painting for local non-profits, and more,” she says.

Category: Oklahoma Stories

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