During every Thunder Home Game of the 2017-18 regular season, American Fidelity Assurance Company will honor 41 different Teacher of the Year winners from all over the state of Oklahoma as the Teacher of the Game. Each teacher will receive a special in-game recognition, a gift bag from American Fidelity with a gift card for classroom supplies and VIP seating at the game. During the last game of the season, Thunder fans will be able to join American Fidelity Assurance Company in honoring the 2017 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year.

Madison Wingate: Pierce Elementary - Oklahoma City
Thunder vs. Knicks
October 19, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Growing up I has several amazing teachers that really showed me love. That had a huge impact on me and made me want to be the same kind of role model and support system for children.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been a teacher for 4, going on 5 years. I have been at my current school for my entire teaching career
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I would say all of my students. The students teach me so much about what helps them, what motivates them, and they teach me patience and love. Seeing the world from a four year old’s eyes makes the world a beautiful, fun place!!!
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russel Westbrook! He has done so much for OKCPS children!!! I love seeing Thunder Players help their communities and our students.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is your key to the world. No matter what you want to do in life, a good education, and learning how to work hard, makes everything else in life easier. If you have a good education, anything is possible. Never be afraid to ask for help. There will always be teachers out there ready to help you.

  • Robin Wall: Barnes Elementary - Owasso
    Thunder vs. Timberwolves
    October 22, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Being a teacher is more than simply imparting information and skills to students; it is transforming lives through love and knowledge. There is such a thrill in connecting with my students, one by one. I love seeing their eyes light up in response to the music we are making through instrumentation or voices, and hearing them walk out of my classroom telling each other, “That was fun!” My passion is to touch my students’ hearts and develop their appreciation for music. Teaching is a job I love because teachers impact lives. Making a difference in the life of a child is a source of great joy in my life.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for nine years. I have been teaching at my current school for five years.

  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My mother, Margaret Purifoy, inspired me to become a teacher. She taught for 27 years. She made her classroom a fun and encouraging place to learn, using creativity and humor in her lessons. I strive to follow her example of loving students and teaching them in effective ways which personally involve each child.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite Thunder player is Russell Westbrook. My husband and I have enjoyed cheering for him since we were season ticket holders in 2011.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? I desire for students today to become life-long learners. Each child who becomes a life-long learner will grow up to be a successful adult, seeing opportunities as open doors. I hope each student discovers what he is passionate about, and follows his heart. Do what you love and love what you do!

  • Janet Johnson: Clyde Boyd Middle School - Oklahoma City
    Thunder vs. Pacers
    October 25, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I knew I was supposed to be a teacher as a child. I taught math to my stuffed animals while still in elementary school. My amazing teachers strengthened my passion. I wanted to be like them. As I finally chose my career as an adult, I decided the way I could most change the world was by being an educator.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 20th year of teaching. This is my 17th year at Clyde Boyd Middle School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I do not have just one person. My teachers in Sand Springs, my parents, my husband and daughters, my colleagues, my science department and my 7th grade science team are all very influential in my career. I would not be where I am today without their support.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Steven Adams
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education gives you the ability to choose what you want to be as an adult. It is the pathway to freedom. If you are not educated, you take whatever job happens upon you. Education allows you to find your passion.
  • Rebecca King: Woodward Early Childhood Center - Woodward
    Thunder vs. Celtics
    November 3, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? The opportunity to invest in the lives of teenagers each day is a great blessing.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 25th year teaching and my 20th year at Oologah-Talala Public Schools.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My grandmother was a great role model of patience and the value of education. I have also been blessed with many amazing teachers throughout my educational career that inspired me to strive to be just as influential as they were.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I am not very knowledgeable about the team but all of my students love Russell Westbrook.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is the key to your success in the future. It will open doors that may seem unimaginable and help you fulfill amazing dreams and goals.
  • Rachael Sugg: Intermediate High School - Coweta
    Thunder vs. Clippers
    November 10, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator in order to help children and teenagers to achieve their full potential. Sometimes, all it takes is one person believing in them to give them that push to suceed. I had that and want to pass that on.
  • How long have you been an educator? Five years and at my current school for five years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential people  during my career have been my family. They supported me while working to achieve my dream of teaching.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? My advice to young Thunder fans is to never give up. It takes practice and perseverance to get better at basketball, school and life. If you mess up, don’t give up... do better next time.
  • Ria Huckeby: Washington - Ada
    Thunder vs. Mavericks
    November 12, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because my love for school began early with great heroes, my teachers. I also come from a family of educators. My parents were both educators, and my older brother is an educator. The relationships I get to build with my students, sharing knowledge, guiding through love and patience, and watching the constant reward of student success is a joy. I feel immense satisfaction that I am a part of something bigger than just myself. I also know that I have been chosen for my profession by God.
  • How long have you been an educator? I've been teaching at Washington School for 11 years, 1999-2004 and 2011-present.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My Mother, a retired educator with 41 years of service in Special Education and Principalship.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is the key to your future, and knowledge is power. Do not be afraid to chase it because it will always be to your benefit.
  • Robin Mills: Washington Irving - Edmond
    Thunder vs. Bulls
    November 15, 2017

    Grace Dozier: Carl Albert High School - Midwest City
    Thunder vs. Warriors
    November 22, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I teach because there is excitement, joy and suspense in the journey. I get to be a forever learner, one who must strive to keep her heart and mind wide open. Teaching is an awesome responsibility because it has such a strong impact on so many people’s lives, extending far beyond the day’s lesson or the curriculum.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have spent all 25 years of my teaching career at my Alma Mater, Carl Albert High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Brenda Bodenheimer, my high school English teacher inspired me to become a teacher. Dr. Kirk, my former principal, helped me become the educator that I am today. Her guidance and encouragement confirmed my decision to be a career educator.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook, but no for the obvious reason. I’ve seen such a growth in this young man since he became a Thunder player. His leadership role is pivotal to the success of this team.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Teachers guide and prepare students for the next step in the learning process and ultimately life. In addition to the information and skills taught, students must learn to be good, kind people who know the importance of truth, fairness, and hard work. They learn to balance work and play, planning time for both. They need to realize the importance of family and friends. They need to develop independence, autonomy and respect for themselves and others. The knowledge that is attained through education helps open doors to all opportunities and better prospects in career growth.
  • Colby McGee: Allen High School - Allen
    Thunder vs. Pistons
    November 24, 2017

    Betty Deen: Oologah Middle School - Oologah
    Thunder vs. Timberwolves
    December 1, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? The opportunity to invest in the lives of teenagers each day is a great blessing.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 25th year teaching and my 20th year at Oologah-Talala Public Schools.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My grandmother was a great role model of patience and the value of education. I have also been blessed with many amazing teachers throughout my educational career that inspired me to strive to be just as influential as they were.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I am not very knowledgeable about the team but all of my students love Russell Westbrook.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is the key to your success in the future. It will open doors that may seem unimaginable and help you fulfill amazing dreams and goals.
  • Margie McElhany: Puterbaugh Middle School - McAlester
    Thunder vs. Spurs
    December 3, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I feel that education is the backbone of success and I am passionate about giving every child the opportunity to be successful in life no matter his or her ability or disability.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for six years. I have been teaching at Puterbaugh Middle School in the McAlester Public School district all six years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career would be the young man that I worked with for twelve years as a Paraprofessional. His name is Rusty Uselton and he TRULY inspired my decision to get a degree and become an educator. Watching him achieve things that doctors said he never would continues to influence my life and the decisions I make in my classroom today.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook, of course!!!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? The advice that I would give young Thunder Fans would be to dream and dream big, set goals, and then go after them with all that is with in you. Education is your ticket to success; therefore, pour yourself into every opportunity to learn that comes your way. Most importantly, believe in yourself. If you say it can be done, you will achieve your goals.

  • Rachael Lehman: Earl Harris Elementary - Bethany
    Thunder vs. Jazz
    December 5, 2017

    Chad Harper: Mustang High School - Mustang
    Thunder vs. Hornets
    December 11, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I wanted to make a meaningful difference in kid's lives.
  • How long have you been an educator? 19 years all at Mustang High School
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My middle school principal, Paul Cloar. He later hired me as a teacher and taught all of us the importance of being a good leader starts with being yourself.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Developing your body and soul will make you good. When you develop your MIND, body and soul, you become unstoppable.
  • Sarah Carter: Drumright High School - Drumright
    Thunder vs. Nuggets
    December 18, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I find joy in learning, and I love having an opportunity to show students how to experience that same joy.
  • How long have you been an educator? Six years total and all six years at Drumright High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My husband, Shaun Carter. We met as a result of both being math teachers. His feedback helps me constantly improve as a teacher.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook. I have my students do a statistics project each year where we analyze the salaries of the Thunder players. Westbrook is the perfect example of a statistical outlier!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Always, always, always do your best! Take every chance you have to learn now because it gets harder and harder to learn as you get older.
  • Neeli Boyd: Wiley Post Elementary - Oklahoma City
    Thunder vs. Jazz
    December 20, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Honestly, I chose to be an educator because majoring in “pre-law” wasn’t an option. I love children and with my mother being a teacher, it was a back-up plan to major in Early Childhood Education. Once I began my education classes, I fell in love with helping children develop into caring citizens.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 9th year of teaching, all at Wiley Post Elementary.

  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? There are too many influential people to count. I have been very blessed to have received much help and mentoring from the first year to the present. My mother, who is also an educator has always been one of my biggest supporters, with the best advice
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook is my favorite player.

  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? An education is your ticket to success. Finding a love for learning helps establish endless possibilities; start now.
  • Deann Jones: Edison Elementary - Bristow
    Thunder vs. Hawks
    December 22, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Why did you choose to become an educator? I think I‘ve always known that I’d become a teacher. I love little kids and teaching just came naturally. I started by “teaching” my little brother and all my stuffed animals what I had learned each day when I came home from school. I was just born with a passion for sharing knowledge and a nurturing attitude.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 14th year of teaching. I have been at Bristow for the last five years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My Mom was probably the most influential because she taught me all the most important lessons: sharing, caring for myself and others, determination, and how to be a hard worker. All of these traits prepared me to be a successful person and teacher.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Westbrook. I love that he has funded reading rooms and supported education for young Oklahomans!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Learn to read well. Read for information and read for fun. Build good work habits and always try your best. Don’t let the choices you make now limit the choices you are able to make in the future.
  • Eric Bilderback: El Reno High School - El Reno
    Thunder vs. Rockets
    December 25, 2017

    Benjamin Silber: Cache Middle School - Cache
    Thunder vs. Raptors
    December 27, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? School was incredibly important for me growing up. Beyond the knowledge and ideas, an education taught me life skills like self-discipline and perseverance. Working as an educator has allowed me to provide those same opportunities for my students.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been teaching instrumental music since 2007 so I am working on my eleventh year now. All my years have been at my current school, Cache High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My high school band director made an enormous impact in my life. He always gave me the confidence to be a better musician and a responsible person. These qualities shaped both who I grew up to be and how I approach teaching.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite player is none other than the great Russell Westbrook. He is a beast on the court, but also finds time to support education in Oklahoma schools.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? You only get out of education what you put into it, and you will only get one shot at it – make it count! Work hard, play hard, and put effort into everything you do.
  • Kristin Flick: Wayside Elementary - Bartlesville
    Thunder vs. Bucks
    December 29, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I believe everyone needs a champion to love them and be “in their corner”. Not all children have that in their lives and I strive to be that champion for my students. I had a teacher that believed in me and cheered me on while I was in school. He made me believe that I could do anything. All children should have someone that believes the best for them.
  • How long have you been an educator? I am currently serving my 15th year as a teacher. This is my 7th year at Wayside Elementary in Bartlesville. Previously, I taught 8 years at Oak Park Elementary, also in Bartlesville, which closed due to budget constraints.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My peer teachers have been the most influential in my teaching career. They have helped me sharpen my skills as an educator and spur me one when I get discouraged. I learn something daily from them that make me a better teacher and person. This is not a career that can be pursued in isolation. We must have a community of teachers to support us!
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite Thunder player is Nick Collison. I admire his loyalty and perseverance and appreciate the way he plays.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Please don’t give up! Stick with it; it will change your life and circumstances! The saying “knowledge is power” is true. If you want something different for your life, go after it and work hard to get there!
  • Carrie Presley: Checotah Middle School - Checotah
    Thunder vs. Mavericks
    December 31, 2017

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I was inspired to become a teacher in order to transform the math classroom with engaging lessons, exciting applications, and to create a positive environment where students learn through mistakes.
  • How long have you been an educator? I majored in business and worked in corporate accounting before becoming a teacher two years ago.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Ron Clark from the Ron Clark Academy!
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Paul George! I’m always a fan of rooting for the new kid.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? If you're sparked to learn something in the classroom, keep the fire lit. If you aren’t, then go out and be the change you wish you’d experienced.

  • Haley Price: Newcastle High School - Newcastle
    Thunder vs. Trail Blazers
    January 9, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I felt that I could really make a difference, make students love learning, and I wanted a career that was fulfilling!
  • How long have you been an educator? Over four years at Newcastle High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? It is very hard to say, but my high school students influence me the most.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education and an enthusiastic love for learning will open doors for the rest of your life.
  • Lori Siltman: Eisenhower High School - Lawton
    Thunder vs. Mavericks
    January 15, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator after seeing the passion my mom had for her students. She taught for 40 years and really made a difference. As a special education teacher, my heart is focused on helping students with disabilities succeed both in the classroom and in life. They need an advocate and someone who just loves them and cares about them.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 16 years. I have been teaching at my current school for 7 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My mom.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education gives you choices. Choices to do anything you want, and be anything you want to be.
  • Julie Ely: Stone Ridge Elementary - Yukon
    Thunder vs. Lakers
    January 17, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I recognized at an early age that I was blessed with the gift of teaching. Seeing the lightbulb go off when a student “got it” provided a feeling that I can’t explain.
  • How long have you been an educator? I just started my 9th year at Stone Ridge Elementary in Piedmont District.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I had several music teachers who influenced me greatly! Dr. Steve Brown, Nancy Sikes, Mrs. Herrin, Jimmy Zinn, Rhonda Fleming and many others who influenced me greatly. Dr. Tom Murray and my dad, Larry Yeargan, influenced me to pursue my master’s degree.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Your education is one of the few things that NO ONE can ever take away from you. Obtain an education for a job, a career, a better future, but more importantly do it for yourself. Always be a lifelong learner. I am still learning something new every day, many times from my students!
  • Natalie Cox: Stillwater High School - Stillwater
    Thunder vs. Nets
    January 23, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I became an educator to help guide future generations into productive citizens.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 20th year. I have been at Richmond Elementary, in Stillwater, for 8 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Joan Kear, from Guymon, Oklahoma.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Nick Collison and Steven Adams
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” - John Wooden
  • Rob Davis: Yukon High School - Yukon
    Thunder vs. Wizards
    January 25, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I wanted to make a difference in this world and have the opportunities to positively affect our state’s future; which can most effectively be done by Oklahoma teachers
  • How long have you been an educator? 16 years in education and 4 years at Yukon High School
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My elementary teacher Mrs. Jackie Maxon as well as my football coach D. L. Robertson
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Steven Adams! I’m a rugby guy and All Blacks fan.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education allows you to discover who you are and drives you to become the person you want to be. Do not settle for being average, embrace the opportunities an education provides so you can make this world your own as you serve others through your gained talents and skills.
  • Carol Ford: Benjamin Franklin Academy - Muskogee
    Thunder vs. Sixers
    January 28, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I always loved working with children and the area of special education has been close to my heart. Started helping at camps in high school and knew it was for me.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been teaching for 37 years. Thirty-five have been in Muskogee Public Schools and the last 10 years have been at Ben Franklin STEM Academy.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? EDUCATION IS EVERYTHING!!!!!! The future is yours and you can be and do anything you want if you take the time to learn!!
  • Laura Smith: Byng Elementary - Byng
    Thunder vs. Pelicans
    February 2, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? As a young girl, I listened to stories my granny and great-aunt told of their childhood. It was in the early 1920s when their father passed away. They were ages one and three when their mother moved them from Tishomingo to a tiny community called Cedar Grove. As I write, I sit less than two miles from where that school house once stood and molded young minds destined for bigger things. I still occasionally walk around the fragments of that old school imagining the lessons that took place inside and stories that building once told. I once spent two weeks trying to dig out the old cellar that still remains looking for treasures of the former school house.
    Cedar Grove School allowed my great-grandmother to join her sister to provide an excellent education to the children in the community as well as provide food on the table for their families. Today, Cedar Grove no longer exists except for a cemetery and a dying church, but the old-timers still share stories of my family members teaching them in the old community school house.
    My granny and great-aunt both went on to college, each earning teaching degrees. My great-aunt spent her entire career in education. While my mother was working on her master’s degree in education, my brother and I stayed with my great-aunt while mom was in class. She often told us stories of teaching throughout Oklahoma and New Mexico. She showed us pictures of her students, seemingly remembering everything about them. As a retired teacher without any immediate family, her students visited her often and wrote her letters. The last time I saw my great-aunt was the day before I boarded a plane to begin my teaching journey overseas. She was so proud of me.
    My mother is also a teacher and a true inspiration to me. She has spent more than twenty years teaching at an alternative school. So often her students are there because the courts have forced them to attend or because they are out of other options. She doesn’t receive nice cards from her students, or Christmas presents, or even a thank you. Yet, she goes every single day to try to make a difference in one student’s life. These three women are my greatest influences.
  • How long have you been an educator? 16 years and 12 years at current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My mother who is also a teacher.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I love the whole team!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? I want students to feel the pride of a job well done and the accomplishments that make the sacrifices worthwhile.  
  • Donna Gradel: Broken Arrow - Broken Arrow
    Thunder vs. Lakers
    February 4, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Many of my teachers throughout my educational career had a tremendous impact on my life, both academically and personally. Their influence made a huge difference in my life and I wanted the opportunity to give back to others in the same way.
  • How long have you been an educator? I am currently in my 29th year of teaching. The last 22 have been at Broken Arrow High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Mr. Larry Lewis, our current Senior Class Administrator at Broken Arrow High School. Mr. Lewis was also my head Principal at Tulsa Hale. He has been, and continues to be, one of the most supportive and inspiring administrators I have had throughout my teaching career.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Apart from your personal character qualities, education will be the most important aspect of your life to determine your future success. Work on your school work like you do your game. Learn with passion.
  • Samuel Holthe: Duncan High School - Duncan
    Thunder vs. Grizzlies
    February 11, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I have always had the desire to help young people. I worked with teenagers as a volunteer youth leader at a local church while in my twenties. At this time, I was also working on career as a software developer. Over time, I realized that my talents would be better spent working with teenagers instead of computers. So I became a teacher. This was the best career move that I could have ever made for myself!
    Now I believe the teaching profession is a service that is as important to our country as our military and our first responders. Teachers are on the front lines of the future and I thank them for their service!
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 13th year in the teaching profession. I have been with Duncan High School since day one.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I have been fortunate to have had many influences. Personally, my parents did a great job being my parents. They taught me many things about wisdom and doing the right thing when it is not so easy to do. My younger brother was born with cerebral palsy. After a childhood of surgeries and setbacks, he still managed to earn a college degree. This is a credit to a family that worked through many struggles.

    Professionally, the most influential person has to be Mr. Gerald Wheeler. As I was beginning my teaching career, he was coming to the end of his. Mr. Wheeler retired after teaching for 54 years, most of which were in Duncan. He is possibly the nicest and most caring person that anyone could ever meet in a lifetime.

  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? The OKC Thunder has been a tremendous addition to the state of Oklahoma. The Thunder has some very awesome people on the team that represent great things to many people.

    I wish to focus on those players who are not in the spotlight as much as the big names. A good team relies on depth in the roster. These players are the professionals that must perform during the game even if they appear to go unnoticed. They work and play just as hard as the starters. They are also just as important for the win.

    To me, this is the same as the professional teacher who goes to the classroom and works so hard to teach the kids even though they appear to go unnoticed. They are just as important for the students’ win. They are the depth of education.

  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? The best lesson I believe I have learned in life is that you are the only “you” that has ever existed or ever will exist. This means you are very valuable and significant. Strive to be a better “you”. Learn about yourself. Learn about your interests, talents, and skills. Then use those things to help others realize the same about themselves.

    Learning is using what you know to figure out what you don’t know. It is life! Never stop learning.

  • Mechelle Helmberger: Central Elementary - Guthrie
    Thunder vs. Cavaliers
    February 13, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I was fortunate to grow up in a family of educators that instilled in me a strong value and respect for education. Therefore, I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives the way my family had.
  • How long have you been an educator? Eleven years and four years at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My grandfather.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Do not give up just because something is hard! Hard work can take you a long ways in life.
  • Dionne Liebl: Deer Creek High School - Edmond
    Thunder vs. Magic
    February 26, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Originally, I worked in the Criminal Justice field; however, I soon saw that I could make more of a difference in the lives of our youth by being an educator. Teachers inspire, encourage, mentor, counsel, and change lives for the better every single day, and I wanted to be a part of that!
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been a teacher for 17 years with five of those years being at Deer Creek High School and 12 of them at Putnam City West High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My parents have been my greatest influence. My mom is super nice, and my dad is intimidating. I have worked to be a good combination of that to work successfully with teens.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Work hard in school now to get that paycheck later!
  • Jamie Rentzel: Norman High School - Norman
    Thunder vs. Rockets
    March 6, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator?I had always helped my friends out with their math homework, but by my junior year of high school, I was regularly helping my friend Jill with her math. At some point, I grabbed my mini dry erase board off my wall and started working out problems with her. Jill said to me, “you explain things so clearly, so much better than my math teacher.” Before this, I had thought that I wanted to become a teacher but had never said it out loud to anyone. In that moment, I realized that I wanted to become a math teacher. No one in my family was in education, so I had no influence from them. Education just felt like it was to be my purpose, and my passion for math blended perfectly into this field. I never had a moment’s pause all through college. I declared my major as math education from the moment I got into OU and never looked back.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been in education since 2004 when I graduated from OU, went through student teaching, substituting and long term subbing. I accepted the position at Norman High School in 2005 and have been teaching here ever since. This is the start of my 13th year at Norman High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The person who has influenced me the most in my career is Mrs. Roxanne Noles. She and I team taught together for 8 years in Algebra 2. She was the special education teacher and I was the general education teacher and we taught Algebra 2 together 2 hours out of the day. Roxanne retired in 2016, but we still talk all the time. Working side by side with her for 8 years, we become quite the powerhouse. She taught me so many things about the education profession, she supported me in trying out new lessons, she encouraged me to be the best teacher that I could be for myself and for my students. I am the teacher I am today because of her. Thank you Roxanne.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook. In Russ we Trust!!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Enjoy your time in school. No matter your grade, enjoy it. Soak it all in. Education and learning is your number one job right now. So enjoy it and make it count.
  • Christine Mueller: Moore Central Junior High - Moore
    Thunder vs. Suns
    March 8, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because it changed and
    saved my life, and I believe an EQUAL education should be available to ALL children.
  • How long have you been an educator? For 24 years and 16 years a Moore Central.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I could not possibly name just one. I have had many
    wonderful mentors over the years.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Nick Collison
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education leads to freedom. If you have more
    connections, life experiences, coping abilities, and job choice, you have freedom.
  • Deitra Roberts-Biely: Grove Lower Elementary - Grove
    Thunder vs. Spurs
    March 10, 2018

    Elizabeth Steinocher: Skelly Upper Elementary School - Tulsa
    Thunder vs. Kings
    March 12, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to be an educator because I love to learn. As an educator I get to be a part of the learning process every single day. Getting to be a part of the moment when the light bulb comes is one of the best parts of teaching! I am inspired by my students every single day I teach.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for ten years. All ten years have been at Skelly Elementary.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My students are the most influential people I work with. Every day I learn more from them about the world and how it works. They inspire me and give me so much hope for the future.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Steven Adams
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Persistence and education is what will separate you from the pack.
  • Cody Little: Durant High School - Durant
    Thunder vs. Clippers
    March 16, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because of the wonderful teachers, coaches, and mentors that I had as a child. They had such a big impact on me and the quality of my life that I wanted to be able to give back and do the same for others.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been teaching for 5 ½ years, all at my current school, Durant High.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career so far is our former assistant principal David Brese. He gave me so much advice and guidance as my observer and mentor my first 5 years that really helped to mold me into the educator that I am today.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite thunder player is Nick Collison. He plays the game hard and has shown a lot of loyalty in staying with the Thunder for his entire career.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? I would advise young thunder fans to work hard and make their education a priority in their lives. Education can help them to lead healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives than would otherwise be possible. Education is the pathway that leads to opportunity!
  • Jill Andrews: Claremore High School - Claremore
    Thunder vs. Heat
    March 23, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose the field of education because no two days in this career are the same. Each day presents a new adventure, and knowing that I have the ability to impact thousands of people’s lives makes the life of a teacher a meaningful and fulfilling one. Nothing is better than spending my days reading and discussing literature with curious and eager teenagers.
  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 20th year teaching, and I have been teaching at Claremore High School for 13 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My high school teachers Beth Young, Linda Batty (a die-hard Thunder FANATIC), Carol Willett, and Carol Little inspired me to become a teacher. My mother, Jan Johnson who is a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience, is another positive influence in my life. Finally, my colleagues and students at Claremore High School who support me and cheer me on influence me every day to keep striving to be a better teacher.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? That’s an easy question – everyone in Oklahoma loves and adores the fabulous Mr. Russell Westbrook, including my 95-year-old grandmother Bernita Sorenson – she is perhaps his biggest fan!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education gives you the opportunity to make yourself better. If you are feeling down, feeling hopeless, feeling like your future looks bleak, education is something that can lift you up and out of a challenging situation. People can rob you of your physical belongings, but one thing no one can ever take away from you is your education. I advise all young Thunder fans not to take their educational opportunities for granted because education can take you anywhere – it can release you from poverty, from crime, from addiction, from abuse, and from boredom. As young Americans and young Oklahomans, you are fortunate to be given an outstanding public education, so don’t waste this valuable gift.
  • Shala Marshall: Jenks High School - Tulsa
    Thunder vs. Trail Blazers
    March 25, 2018

    Jessi Ross: Mooreland High School - Mooreland
    Thunder vs. Nuggets
    March 30, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I had a great teacher that influenced me as a student. She had fun with us, she was caring, and I learned a lot from her. I also have a great love for children! Now I get to be that fun and loving teacher that I had the opportunity to have growing up. As an educator, we get the privilege to help shape little lives. What an awesome and rewarding profession to be part of!
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for eight years this year. I have taught at Mooreland Elementary those eight years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My dad and my husband have both been the most influential people in my life. These two amazing men have taught me to be a hard worker and to never settle on being mediocre. They have both inspired me to be the best that I can be. Also, my mom and my 3 children have been my biggest cheerleaders and supporters. Finally my principal, teaching staff, and students at Mooreland Elementary have influenced me throughout my teaching career. They have supported me, inspired me, and have helped mold me into the teacher that I am today.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite Thunder player is Steven Adams.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Respect your teachers that challenge you to be your best, and never settle for anything less than your best.
    I challenge you to learn something new every day!
  • Shantel O'Grady: Tecumseh Middle School - Tecumseh
    Thunder vs. Warriors
    April 3, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I became a teacher because I didn’t want to lose my love and enthusiasm to play and learn at work every day.
  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 13 years. This is my fourth year at Tecumseh Middle School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My Montessori Head teacher challenged me to leave my comfort bubble behind and embrace the belief that deeply engaged learning can and often does look like organized chaos.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook for his athleticism and support of education/reading.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? When you become a proficient reader, you are able to learn everything and anything you want. When you strive to learn and think, your options in life truly become limitless.
  • Susan Henderson: Roy Clark Elementary - Tulsa
    Thunder vs. Grizzles
    April 11, 2018