During every Thunder Home Game of the 2018-19 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 2018 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year.

Tishina Mendemann: Anadarko Middle School - Anadarko
Thunder vs. Kings
October 21, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I have always felt the need to pass my love of learning on. I have tried to do this in different careers, but none fit like education. Giving knowledge to the next generation and helping them to find their own joy in learning is a reward in its own right.

  • How long have you been an educator? My first job is at Anadarko Middle School and I have been there for 3 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I come from a family of educators. My father is a severe and profound educator and my sister is a college professor. My grandmother was also a teacher, so it is in my blood. There are two people who I look to for inspiration during teaching. First is Eleanor Roosevelt. My favorite quote attributed to her is, “Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.” This helps me to remember that education is not to make a living, but to inspire others to make a life for themselves. The second person is Russell Westbrook. I use him as an example for all of my students. It is possible to be a student athlete and be extremely successful at both. You can become a superstar on the court and in the classroom.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I love the inspiration of Russell Westbrook, but I love the excitement of Steven Adams. If forced to choose, I would have to choose Steven.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? There are many things in this life that seem important, but none so important as education. People can take your job, they can take your possessions, and they can take your family, but they can never take the knowledge you possess. It is more precious than gold. Amass as much as you can and be a lifelong learner.

  • Jamie Rowell: Plato Elementary - Duncan
    Thunder vs. Celtics
    October 25, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I decided to be a teacher when I was in the first grade. I had a teacher that I adored. She worked really hard to help me learn. She and I are good friends to this day! She even substitutes for me on occasion.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 12th year teaching and my first year at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Mrs. Linda Craig was my first grade teacher and is the whole reason I am a teacher. Mrs. Chrisie Young has been my teaching partner and friend for many years. She drives me to be better every day.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Your education is the one thing in your life that can take anywhere you want to go. It can prepare you for life you want.

  • Catherine Adams: Piedmont Elementary - Piedmont
    Thunder vs. Suns
    October 28, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because each day I have the opportunity and privilege to positively impact a child’s life while teaching them skills they will need to be successful adults and future leaders.

  • How long have you been an educator?This is my 30th year in education and my 10th year at Piedmont Elementary.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My mom and dad instilled in me the importance of being a lifelong learner and encouraged me to choose a career that would be challenging and fulfilling. My mom and grandmother were also teachers.
  • 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? Education is a priceless gift that not all children get to receive. Arrive at school each day ready to learn and challenge your brain to stretch and grow. Remember mistakes are learning opportunities!

  • Tera Mitchell: Westwood Elementary - Stillwater
    Thunder vs. Clippers
    October 30, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of my students. I can make a difference not only in their academic lives, but can effect change in the relationships I create with each of them.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have taught for 11 years. All of them have been at Westwood!
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? For me it has been a group of people. I am fortunate to work and collaborate with some of the most effective and phenomenal educators at Westwood. Each of them push me to be a better, more effective educator and have helped shape me into the teacher I am today.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook-I admire his commitment to children in this state and the leadership he shows to his team. He could have chosen to leave, but instead stayed and has been an influencing factor in others staying as well.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? The education you receive today will be the driving force of your future. Don’t take one second of it for granted, always do your best, and never stop dreaming.

  • Jayme Hutchcraft: Shawnee Middle School - Shawnee
    Thunder vs. Pelicans
    November 5, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Both of my parents are educators and have played a role in athletics in Shawnee as well. I saw my parents build relationships with students and plant seeds for students to reach for and often times exceed the potential that others saw in them. The impact that my parents had on those they mentored, was something that I wanted to be a part of in my life.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been a literature teacher at Shawnee Middle School for 7 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Ms. Arrington and Mrs. Bryant were my high school English teachers that I still use as examples for my classroom. They brought reading and writing from menial subjects to worthwhile endeavors that could enrich and bring out joy and entertainment. They were interactive, modeled what was expected, and built relationships. They worked hard to, if not instill a love for reading and writing in us, at least help us see the value in it.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite Thunder player is Russell Westbrook. I love his passion and determination on the basketball court.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? In education it is vital to develop grit. As Angela Duckworth once stated, “Grit is sticking with your future day in, day out and not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years.” As with all good things, you will struggle, but that is where the best and deepest learning comes.

  • Marty Rhodes: Ardmore High School - Ardmore
    Thunder vs. Rockets
    November 8, 2018

  • Kathy Cannon: Newcastle Middle School - Newcastle
    Thunder vs. Suns
    November 12, 2018

  • Angie Fortune: L.W. Westfall Elementary - Choctaw
    Thunder vs. Knicks
    November 14, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? As a child, I had excellent educators and phenomenal parents who inspired me to use every moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. They ignited a passion for learning and self-discovery that I wanted to share with others. I have the privilege of going to work every day where I help kids recognize their own abilities, help them strengthen these abilities, and witness their confidence blossom. I am incredibly blessed to be a teacher!

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 21 years and have been teaching at Westfall Elementary for the past 4 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My parents were extremely influential in helping me aspire to find a career that serves and inspires others. Daily, I am encouraged and challenged by my amazing coworkers who devote their lives to helping children reach their full potential. I am so blessed to work alongside extraordinary teachers.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I love all the Thunder players. Their support of the Oklahoma City community is tremendous. Thank you for being positive examples for our kids!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? As Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I would tell all young Thunder fans to seize every opportunity you have to learn something new. Allow yourself the patience to persevere through a task and value the challenges in learning. Education CAN and WILL change your life. Use it to help change our world.

  • Amy Greenhaw: Jenks High School - Jenks
    Thunder vs. Hornets
    November 23, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? To make a difference in the lives of kids that have not been successful in the past. Helping students with learning differences prepare for college and careers.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for sixteen years in the Jenks School District– ten of those were as a Speech-Language Pathologist and the last six have been as a high school English teacher working with students with learning differences.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I have so many that I have a hard time choosing just one, but it was a group of 5th and 6th grade teachers that I worked alongside for ten years.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook – I think he is a great role model
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? School can be hard and frustrating at times, but it can also be incredibly exciting! Always do your personal best even if it is hard! Education can help you change the world!

  • Jonathan Holloway: Owasso High School - Owasso
    Thunder vs. Nuggets
    November 24, 2018

  • Nathan Leonard: Roblyer Learning Center - El Reno
    Thunder vs. Cavaliers
    November 28, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I have always wanted to teach. Creating experiences and giving my students opportunities to better themselves is the best feeling a teacher can have.

  • How long have you been an educator? Thirteen years total and 10 years at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? It is hard to pick a single person. I have my family, colleagues and former teachers that all influence me to be a better person each day.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook, not only is he the best on the court, but he
    does amazing work with kids off the court with his “Why Not? Foundation”
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Never stop learning. Try and improve yourself a little each day and before you know it you will have your dreams come true.

  • Whitney Campbell: Pryor Junior High - Pryor
    Thunder vs. Hawks
    November 30, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become and educator because I want to help kids reach their potential and make this world a better place! I love music and helping others, so becoming a band director was the perfect choice for me.

  • How long have you been an educator? I am currently in my fourth year of teaching, and I have been at Pryor Junior High the entire time!
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career was one of my band directors from 6th grade-12th grade, Mr. Steve Workman. He always pushed me to be my very best and taught me to never settle. I model many of the things I do in my classroom based off of how he taught me!
  • 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 to be the very best version of yourself! Life is too precious and short to be anything less.

  • Philip Nguyen: Administration - Moore
    Thunder vs. Jazz
    December 10, 2018

  • Jenny Morphis: Hilldale Lower Elementary - Muskogee
    Thunder vs. Clippers
    December 15, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I saw the impact teachers have on students

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 20th year in education and my 5th year at Hilldale.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My parents who were my first teachers. They taught me to treat everyone with kindness, work hard, and set your goals high.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russ, of course!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Work hard, read daily, and never stop learning.

  • Debbie Crouch: Centennial Elementary - Edmond
    Thunder vs. Bulls
    December 17, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I had a bad experience in 1st grade that impacted my attitude towards school. As an adult looking back I realized how much teachers influence young learners. I wanted to have the opportunity to create a classroom where students would have fun learning, a classroom where students would feel safe to make mistake, a classroom where students would feel accepted, encouraged and loved and a classroom where students would learn to accept one another no matter what their differences may be.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 11th year of teaching and I have been at Centennial Elementary in Edmond for all of my teaching career.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? There is no way I can choose one person. I have been influenced by my family, many co-teachers but most of all I am greatly influenced by my students. I think the World would be a better place if we could all see things through the eyes of children. They are inquisitive, unashamedly honest, they are forgiving, accepting and kind.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Tough question, I love the team, but if I have to pick a favorite I would say Steven Adams. He is strong, gets his job done and seems so humble about it.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Your education is something that can never be taken away from you. When school is tough work at it, don't give up! Nothing worthwhile is ever easy! These Thunder players make it look easy but they worked hard at school, in the gym and on the court, no one handed them this life, they earned it!

  • Marcella Sweet: Donald P. Sloan Junior High - Coweta
    Thunder vs. Timberwolves
    December 23, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator?I like to give the credit to a teacher I had in middle school named Mrs. Blomquist. Her actions always spoke louder than her words; her care for others was always at the forefront of her mind. She challenged me to never let my age be a factor for what I could accomplish. I always knew that I wanted to have the same impact on others that she had on my life.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my sixth year teaching at Coweta Public Schools. I have spent my whole teaching career in the same building working with the same wonderful people.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career?The most influential person in my career is honestly my students. I learn just as much from them as they do from me. They keep me on my toes, push me to be my best, and help me practice patience. Some of them have experienced so much in their short lives, and to see them overcome the obstacles that they do, is inspiring. The moment I know I reached them, is the moment I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing as an educator.
  • 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? The advice I would give, is when, not if, you fail, brush it off and start again. Life is not easy and being young and in school is no exception to that. You will face some difficult times, but you have to take your failures and figure out how to learn from them. Don’t give up and don’t expect anything to be handed to you. You have to work for success. If you think you can, then you can. In the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.”

  • Paul Baker: Bethany Middle School - Bethany
    Thunder vs. Mavericks
    December 31, 2018

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I was inspired by teachers who made a difference in my life, and I want to make a difference in the lives of my students and be a positive impact on our school and community.

  • How long have you been an educator? Thirteen years and seven at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My wife, Dr. Kelly Baker
  • 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 important because it builds knowledge and confidence and will be the key to open the door of future opportunities and a better life. (Also, practice your math!)

  • Warren Neff: Bartlesville High School - Bartlesville
    Thunder vs. Wizards
    January 6, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? Some very special educators gave me a love of learning that helped make me the person I am today. Becoming an educator has given me the chance to pass that love of learning on to the next generation.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 16 year with the last four at Bartlesville High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My wife is the most influential person. She encouraged me to fulfill my dream to become a teacher, even sacrificing her dreams to let me fulfill mine.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Since Nick Collison retired, I will go with Steven Adams. I’ve always admired the big man in the center.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? In the game of life, education will keep you in the game and ultimately give you the win.

  • Lisa Stacey: Mustang Middle School - Mustang
    Thunder vs. Timberwolves
    January 8, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I have a passion for seeing kids be successful!

  • How long have you been an educator? I am in my 10th year of teaching and have been at Mustang Middle School for 4 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Another teacher and friend has played a huge role in helping me become the teacher that I am today. That person is Kortni Torralba.
  • 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? Dream big and then work hard to make it reality! Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t capable of being whom and what you want to be.

  • Andrea Sifers: Administration - Sallisaw
    Thunder vs. Spurs
    January 12, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I choose to become an educator because I had a teacher make a significant impact on my life. I’ll never forget the encouragement and sense of self-worth she gave me. I knew that I wanted to have that kind of impact on others and leave a legacy of changing lives for the better.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 9 years. I have been in my current position for 1 year.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career has been my 10 year old son, Cooper. When I think of the kind of teacher I want to be for the students in my class I just imagine the kind of teacher I would want him to have. He encourages me to have patience and understanding, and most importantly he shows me how to truly find joy in every day.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Nick Collison will always be my favorite Thunder player, retired or not!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Don’t ever stop learning because that’s something that no one can ever take away from regardless of who you are or where you’re from. Education is the key, no matter what the door is!

  • Teresa Greco: Gilmour Elementary - Kingfisher
    Thunder vs. Lakers
    January 17, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? My love for music and my desire to inspire others through music lead me to become a professional music educator.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been a teacher for six years, two and a half years at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My very first piano teacher, Mrs. Scott, was very patient, kind, and was an outstanding musician. She always had high expectations for her students and worked tirelessly to help them achieve their musical goals and their life goals. She taught with heart and always believed in me. One teacher can make the difference in a life for a lifetime! Her example continues to inspire me every day.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Andre Roberson. GREAT player AND he took the time to personally sign a basketball for my son before a game last season. Never too busy to think of his fans!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? The great philosopher, Plato, once said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” We are blessed to live in this great country, the United States of America, where you have the right to this great beginning- your education. Your education has the power to give you a future filled with success. Use it!

  • Gena Beeson: Deer Creek High School - Edmond
    Thunder vs. Trail Blazers
    January 22, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator for a few reasons: I wanted to making a lasting impact in a career of service; I wanted to be a different kind of teacher, one who always remembered the challenges of being a teen; and I wanted to help young people find a voice in their writing and passion and empathy in the pages of beautiful books.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 23rd year in the classroom, the last eight of which have been at Deer Creek High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege of having incredible mentors: my first public school principal who led with courage; a fellow English teacher, a true sage who wore fabulous shoes well into her 50s, which I aspire to do; a curriculum principal who nurtured my passion and creativity; my current principal who fosters growth in her entire faculty; but it is my students who have been the most influential, both personally and professionally.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I’m a teacher; I don’t have favorites!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education-truly embracing learning and growing-is the key to EVERYTHING! Internalize every teachable moment because those moments will change you.

  • Audra Branson: Guthrie Upper Elementaryl - Guthrie
    Thunder vs. Pelicans
    January 24, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I come from a long line of teachers. My great-grandfather was the Dean of Education at Northwestern OSU in Alva. From there it just continued - my grandmother, mother, brother, cousins, etc. At the beginning, I thought I wanted to branch out into a different area; but, once my son started school and I could see what a positive effect his teachers had, I knew what my calling was. I wanted to make students’ eyes light up when they told about their day at school the way my son’s did. It is just as rewarding as I dreamed it to be.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my fourteenth year as an educator. It is my third year with Guthrie Public Schools.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? There have been so many people that have influenced me in such a variety of ways, that it is impossible to choose just one. My grandmother never stopped believing in me. My mother taught kindergarten for thirty years which provided an example of an outstanding teacher for me before I even entered school. My husband and son have shown patience and support when school requires more than the 40 hours a week. The teachers and administrators I have worked with are an endless amount of encouragement. And the kids…. I can’t even put into words how influential they have been to me. They have taught me more than any book, workshop, or class. They are my inspiration and motivation.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Just one!? We love all of them! My top five if I’m forced to pick would be Westbrook, Grant, Felton, Paul George and Adams. My mom’s top of those four is Steven Adams, so I’m going to have to go with him!
  • 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 hang in there. Sometimes are going to be harder than others, but the good is just around the corner. Education will be a part of your life long after you’ve graduated school. Embrace it. Find what peaks your interest to learn more about and share that passion with others. We don’t just learn from teachers and parents; we learn from each other. Spread kindness and view your education as a continuous voyage of adventure.

  • Wendy Oates: Highland Park Elementary - Woodward
    Thunder vs. Bucks
    January 27, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I wanted to help students learn in a way that was positive and reassuring. I come from a family of educators and it is all I ever wanted to be.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 28 years. I have been an Oklahoma resident for 6 years and this is my 6th year at my current school in the same position teaching math (which I LOVE!).
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career was my mom. She was a kindergarten teacher for 36 years. Before developing Alzheimer’s Disease, she was the most energetic, driven educator I have ever seen. She taught in a high poverty, limited English school her whole career, as she knew that was her calling. I never saw her give up on her students. In fact, she molded me to become the same kind of teacher.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? That is easy! Russell Westbrook.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is the single most important thing in your life. It is your job. With a great education, the opportunities in your life are endless and no dreams are too big. Education opens the door to all kinds of possibilities.

  • Michelle Shelton: Administration - Noble
    Thunder vs. Magic
    February 5, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in third grade. I’ve always loved books and I couldn’t imagine a better job than to share that love of reading with children and help them become life long readers.

  • How long have you been an educator?This is my tenth year as a teacher and my third year to teach at Pioneer Intermediate. I taught in Mid-Del previously.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I love to follow #Oklaed teachers on Twitter and see the amazing things happening in Oklahoma education. I also learn a lot from various teacher authors such as Dave Burgess, Ron Clark, Kim Beardon, Hope and Wade King and Chris Biffle.
  • 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? In our Whole Brain Teaching classroom we know that we need to have kindness, invincible grit, leadership, courage and creativity to be successful in life and in school. It’s important to stick with it and remember it’s ok to make mistakes along the way, just don’t give up! Your education is the key to help you reach any goal you set for your future!

  • Natalie Fielden: Freedom Elementary - Sapulpa
    Thunder vs. Grizzlies
    February 7, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? My “teaching” experience began as a Software Instructor for a large law firm in Texas. Shortly after I had my daughter I decided that I loved teaching, but didn’t love the corporate world. I returned to college and discovered the beauty in the theory of teaching children. The art of teaching is providing the structure within which children construct meaning and build upon. Everyday we get to watch children respond to our lessons and see the proverbial “light bulbs” go off. When struggling students experience an “aha” moment, I remember why I do what I do.
    After becoming a teacher, I realized that I like the challenge to become a more effective, creative and impactful teacher than I was the year before. I love reading about brain research and new theories to help support cognitive and social-emotional development in my students.

  • How long have you been an educator?I am a National Board Certified Teacher and I teach Kindergarten at Freedom Elementary. I have taught Kindergarten for almost 19 years, 17 of those for Sapulpa Public Schools.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? As an adult who went back to college, I understand the importance of instilling a lifelong love of learning. I watched my mother go back to school to get her GED. She showed me a love of learning by loving learning herself. My daughter’s love of learning was inspired by her 1st and 2nd grade teacher. Watching the creative ways in which her teacher made learning fun and accessible for each student had a huge influence on my choosing Early Childhood as a major.
  • 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? Although there may be times that you struggle with some skill or lesson, know that there are teachers that believe in you. Teachers are there to help you make those connections. If you keep trying, you will discover you are greater than you can imagine. You have more strength than you know. One day will be your day! Education will be your superpower.

  • Anthony Chancellor: Belle Isle Enterprise - Oklahoma City
    Thunder vs. Trail Blazers
    February 11, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I was in 7th grade when I first decided to become an educator. I had several talented and inspiring teachers that helped me find my talents and passion and I knew that I wanted to do the same thing for others.

  • How long have you been an educator?This is my 12th year as an educator. I have been at Belle Isle for the past 11 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? There have been many people that have influenced me and my teaching. I have a wonderful principal Lynn Kellert, who has believed in me and supported me since day one. I have several colleagues that have inspired me to do more and become a better stronger teacher. My wife and 4 kids have been a great help and support. My students, however, are probably the ones who have had the greatest influence on my career. They bring great ideas and perspectives to my classroom as well as energy and enthusiasm.
  • 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 the gateway to your dreams! Your education is in your hands, it is what you make it.

  • Shaniqua Ray: Monroe Demonstration Academy - Tulsa
    Thunder vs. Jazz
    February 22, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I had a really awesome math teacher in high school and I wanted to pay it forward. I wanted to impact the lives of students by helping them see the potential that they possessed inside of them in order to be successful in their own life.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my ninth year in education and my third year at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My mom has been the most influential person in my career. She’s a kindergarten teacher and admire the work that she does with the little ones because that’s when the desire and a spark for learning truly starts.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Favorite Thunder player is Russell Westbrook.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education truly is a powerful tool that can be used to unlock unlimited opportunities. It is something that can not be taken away from you yet you determine just how powerful it can be by how you choose to use it. Take ownership of your education, set goals for yourself and then let nothing or no one stop you from achieving those goals.

  • Shelly Swisher: Education Service Center - Broken Arrow
    Thunder vs. Kings
    February 23, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I wanted to inspire and touch lives of students the way so many of my teachers had done for me.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 27th year to teach; they have all been taught at Broken Arrow Public Schools as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My sophomore English teacher Mrs. Frances Wilkie. I came from an uneducated family. No one in my family had ever attended college, but Mrs. Wilkie didn’t let me believe that college wasn’t an option for me. She helped me apply, get financial aid, and enroll. Because of her encouragement, I am now able to pay it forward and impact my students’ lives the way she did for me.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Andre Roberson
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your dream or goals. Work hard; give it your best effort, and if you fail, get up and try again. Failure is only failure when you do not learn something from the experience.

  • Shea Pulis: Academic Success Center - Piedmont
    Thunder vs. Sixers
    February 28, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to be an educator because I wanted to help mold and shape the single most important resource we have for the future: our children. Young people need mentors along their journey to help them rise when they are falling, hold them together when they are breaking, and believe in them when they do not believe in themselves. I wanted to be that person.

  • How long have you been an educator? I taught 4th grade for 6 years at McKinley Elementary School in Enid. I now am an assistant principal for Glenwood Elementary School and Monroe Elementary School in Enid.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I have two extremely influential people who helped me become the woman and educator I am today. First, Mrs. Buck, my 3rd grade teacher, who made me absolutely adore school. I have vivid memories of her classroom, my learning experience, and the way she made me feel. I will forever attempt to make every one of my students feel the way she made me feel. Second, Dr. Mackie, my undergraduate and master’s program professor, who forced me to view education from an outside the box approach. For all the times I felt uncomfortable, all the times he questioned and challenged my conventional thinking, and all the times he was in my corner, he made me become a better educator.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook because he has the best interviews. EVER.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is the means to create your own path. Your path is just that: yours. You get to decide where it takes you no matter what cards you have been dealt by life. Use your educational journey to carve out your life’s path. Work hard, have fun, and chase your dreams!

  • Jessica Stolusky: Catalayah Elementary - Claremore
    Thunder vs. Grizzlies
    March 3, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I have always wanted to be a teacher. I love being apart of facilitating and watching young minds grow.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been teaching for 9 years and have been at my current school teaching Kindergarten for 8 years
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I am currently most inspired by my friend and colleague Jennifer Esau. After many years advocating for our children as a teacher, she is now stepping up to run for the state senate seat in district 2 to finally make real change happen for the students of Oklahoma. We must be the change we wish to see in this world.
  • 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? Be cool , be kind, show up and work hard!

  • Rebecca Oglesby: Administration - Yukon
    Thunder vs. Nets
    March 13, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? My choice to become a teacher can be attributed largely to my former teacher Randy Rader. He showed me at a young age what a difference one person with the heart of a teacher can make

  • How long have you been an educator?This is my 8th year in education. My first 5 years I served as a first grade teacher. This is my third year as an art teacher. This is my third year in Yukon Public Schools
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My former teacher Randy Rader made a lasting impact and is the reason I went into the profession. My current principal Kristin Lipe is also extremely influential in pushing me to be better. Because of her phenomenal leadership style, I am currently in a master’s program at UCO.
  • 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 is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  • William Higgins: Jefferson ECC - McAlester
    Thunder vs. Warriors
    March 16, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because of my own teachers who made learning fun and invested in me. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Watson, 8th grade Science teacher, Mr. Clift, Calculus teacher, Mr. Collier and Senior English teacher, Mrs. Burden, inspired me to become a teacher. In their own way, they each showed an interest in me both in and out of the classroom and I believe they genuinely cared for me. They pushed me to reach my potential and taught me that it is ok to fail as long as I keep trying.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been in education for 14 years, 9 of those teaching Pre-K in Mcalester Public Schools.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential people in my career have been my parents. Growing up, my mom ran a daycare in our house. I’ve witnessed her caring and teaching kids my whole life. I learned how to be kind, patient and how to persevere in the midst of chaos from my mom. My dad taught me that no matter what I’m doing, I should put forth my best effort. He taught me to not cut corners and to treat others with respect. My parents don’t have anything to do with my professional development or continuing education, but they laid a foundation that affects me and my classroom every second of every day.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Steven Adams is my favorite OKC player. I love his work ethic on the court and his fierce loyalty to the Thunder. I like that he doesn’t take everything too seriously and loves to have a good time.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? I would like to tell young Thunder fans that an education is one of the most important things they can get in life. A great education plus a determined kid equals an endless amount of possibilities.

  • Teresa Lansford: Lincoln Elementary - Norman
    Thunder vs. Heat
    March 18, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? There is something magical that happens when a kid accomplishes something they didn’t know they could. I get to experience that magic every day. I couldn’t imagine a better career.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 15th year in education. I have been at my current school for 7 years.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career is my principal Olivia Dean. I have known her since I was an intern teacher and she was a special education teacher in the same school. She is a great friend and an amazing mentor. She has always believed in me and always supports me.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook is my favorite Thunder player. I admire his dedication and drive.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? You never know where life will lead you, or what amazing opportunities will come your way. An education equips you to be ready for greatness. Make the most of it. Stay curious. Stay engaged. You can make a difference in your world. Be ready!

  • Jessica Robinson: Altus High School - Altus
    Thunder vs. Raptors
    March 20, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I didn’t know what I wanted to do until later in college, but looking back everything was leading me toward teaching. Now for me it is very simple – I love learning and I love working with students. Teaching allows me to learn every single day and spend time with amazing kids who are going to change the world.

  • How long have you been an educator? This is my 7th year teaching and 7th year at Altus High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Janice Pellam has been the most influential person in my career, as a first year teacher I instantly gravitated toward her. She is a master teacher, and was teaching AP English at the time; everyone talked about her and her classes with such reverence. It was almost like everyone who had taken her class was in a club, and it was obvious she was brilliant but what makes her exceptional is how she connected with students. They worked hard for her because they knew how hard she worked and how much she cared for them. For me working and learning from her was pivotal in shaping the type of teacher of I wanted to be, and am always striving to be.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook – I love how he plays the game with tenacity and determination. He is the epitome of a competitor, and I admire what he does for our communities and education in Oklahoma.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Knowledge is power, and it is a currency that can take you anywhere. The world is ready for you and needs you. We need your voice, your power, and your strength. Don’t wait for a seat at the table, take one.

  • Kasey Manning: Tinker Elementary - Oklahoma City
    Thunder vs. Pacers
    March 27, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I have always loved working with young children. Not much beats watching the process of discovery and learning young children engage in. The pure joy, amazement and growth that comes with each learning experience is worth the work, struggle and time it takes to get there. Wanting to fill my days with these kinds of moments is why I became a teacher.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have be an early childhood educator for 11 years. I have spent the last four years at Tinker Elementary a part of Mid-Del Public Schools.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? Amy LeClaire enter my life on my first day of teaching as my supporting teaching and continues now as friend. Amy was just who I needed to support, encourage and challenge me.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? I don’t have just one favorite player. Alone they are men, together they are our Thunder.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is the axis on which you can shift your path. Take it seriously, show up, listen up and work hard.

  • Jannean Thompson: Tulsa
    Thunder vs. Nuggets
    March 29, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? My grandparents worked very hard to gain their education during the Great Depression here in Oklahoma. Their example of how life changing an education can be for a person inspired me to be the one to help others gain that education.

  • How long have you been an educator? 25 years and 18 years at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my educational career was my junior English teacher, Mrs. Bratton (Mrs. B). She showed me that you can have fun and do exciting, engaging activities even with the hardest content.
  • 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 is the stairway to your future. Climb confidently, climb continually. Never, ever stop. You are worth the climb.

  • Carol Hunsperger: Grove Lower Elementary - Grove
    Thunder vs. Mavericks
    March 31, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because of my own elementary school teachers that made me fall in love with learning, so I want to inspire my students the same way my teachers inspired me as a young girl.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 23 years. I have spent all 23 years at Grove Lower Elementary School in Grove, Ok.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career has been Ms. Sandy Coaly. She was my principal and superintendent for 11 years. Ms. Coaly’s strength in leadership and constant encouragement for me to raise the bar a little higher brought me to where I am today. Ms. Coaly always believed in me and helped me find my path. I am forever thankful and grateful for such an inspiring mentor.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite Thunder player is Russell Westbrook, but I love them all!
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? Education is key to making your dreams a reality! There is nothing more important than gaining the knowledge to create your own path in life. The true beauty of learning is that NO ONE can ever take that knowledge away from you. It’s yours- FOREVER! DREAM BIG and GO FAR!

  • Kortney Ozmentr: Tecumseh
    Thunder vs. Lakers
    April 2, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I am a sixth generation teacher. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother give to the next generation. I observed the joy that it gave them. I wanted to experience the same joy and do my part to enhance the next generation.

  • How long have you been an educator? Twenty-seven years and 26 at my current school.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? My mother – currently an English teach in her 40th year 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? Education is the key to success. Everything you do in life is based on an education, but it does not have to be a formal education. Knowledge is the key that unlocks the door to the future.

  • Sharica Cole: Benjamin Franklin - Muskogee
    Thunder vs. Pistons
    April 5, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because I loved to read as a child and wanted to encourage others to succeed.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 14 years. I have taught kindergarten and middle school. This is my first year to teach 6th grade at New Tech @Cherokee.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? The most influential person in my career is my mother. She is also an educator and her passion, character, and work ethic make me want to be like her when I grow up.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? My favorite Thunder player is a difficult choice. I love to watch Paul George and Russell, but I can’t leave out the big man Steven Adams.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education?My advice to young fans is to:
    Study and create a vision for yourself, then work towards it
    Read something everyday to expand your knowledge
    There is always time to kind

  • Shari Gately: Putnam City West - Oklahoma City
    Thunder vs. Rockets
    April 9, 2019

  • Why did you choose to become an educator? I chose to become an educator because of an experience I had working at a summer camp in college that served kids who had been impacted with HIV/AIDS. That experience planted a seed which would lead to a career in education. I realized every child deserves an advocate, an adult willing to fight for them, an adult who values them, and an adult who sees the endless amount of potential every single one of them has in this world.

  • How long have you been an educator? I have been an educator for 8 years and have spent my entire career at Putnam City West High School.
  • Who was/is the most influential person in your career? I have had amazing mentors and work colleagues who inspire me daily, but my education hero is my aunt Nola who has worked at every level of education. She is retired now, but the decisions she made as a teacher, administrator, and superintendent were always based on what was best for kids. She was never afraid to take risks or make hard decisions that weren’t always popular with adults because at the end of the day education is about serving students.
  • Who is your favorite Thunder player? Russell Westbrook - the passion he brings to the game and the all out effort day in and day out.
  • What word of advice would you give to young Thunder Fans in regards to the importance of education? My advice comes from a Michelle Obama quote about education, “The ability to read, write, and analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at the table - all of that starts with education.” Education truly is what affords opportunities and is the great equalizer in society and no one can take that from you.