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OKC Thunder and American Fidelity Assurance Company partner together to honor teachers in the state of Oklahoma during each regular season home game. Each teacher is the "Teacher of the Year" in their respective school distrricts which is voted on in that district. If you have questions on how you can nominate a teacher, please reach out to the school district in which they teach in.

Deborah Baack

School: LW Westfall Elementary - Choctaw Nicoma Park
Grade: 4th
Subject: Math and Language Arts
Game: 5/4/2021 vs. Kings

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I chose to become and educator because I wanted to help children become the best people they could possibly become.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been in education for 23 years. I have been at LW Westfall for 15 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My mom was the most influential person towards leading me into teaching and Shannon Slay is currently the person who influences my teaching the most now because she is our principal and is always pushing use to learn more and improve.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
With this new roster I am looking forward to seeing who will emerge as my new favorite.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Education is the one thing that all people can lean on to improve their life. How far you are able to excel in life is always increased wit the effort you put into your education. The amount of influence for positive chance in the world is always increased as you learn and grow.

Melanie Ball

School: Cotteral Elementary - Guthrie
Grade: 3rd
Game: 2/14/2021 vs. Bucks

Why did you choose to become and educator?
An amazing Oklahoma educator made a major impact on me in 4th grade.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for 25 years. I have been in Guthrie Public Schoolsfor 21 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I have worked with so many wonderful educators, but my “role model” has always been Ms. Nancy Bradley. She is now retired, but made a huge impact on me and my entire family.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
I really enjoy watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
I would advise them to make the most of their education and enjoy the process! A good education can open many doors!

Patti Berkley

School: Oologah-Talala Public Schools
Game: 3/24/2021 vs. Grizzlies

Ginger Billman

School: Richmond Elementary – Stillwater
Grade: 1st
Game: 4/8/2021 vs. Cavaliers

Why did you choose to become and educator?
From some of my earliest memories, I knew I wanted to teach. I always found myself working with children whether it was being a camp counselor, babysitting or working at a day care. I have always enjoyed helping children learn while exploring their curiosities and celebrating their successes with them.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I am currently in my 27th year of teaching. I have been teaching in Stillwater for 17 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I have been lucky to have so many influential people impact my career. I’ve learned so much from every principal, mentor and peer teacher. I would not be the teacher I am today without each of them. Teresa Shaffer, my principal at Deep Rock Elementary in Cushing, Okla., stands out because she treated me like family. I began to realize the importance of building relationships with my students by watching and learning from Teresa. She created an atmosphere in her building that felt like “home.” It was an environment that was comfortable and exciting for every child who walked through the doors. I knew that I wanted my classroom to feel like “home” for every student.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
I’m a Lu Dort fan. The attitude and energy he brings to the team is contagious. He worked hard to get his shot in the NBA and has made the most of his opportunity.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
I want young children to know that there is always something new to learn. Be curious and courageous and not be afraid to try new things. One of my favorite quotes about education is: “The beautiful thing about learning is no one can take it away from you.” – B.B. King

Hannah Bland

School: Tulsa Honor Academy
Game: 5/14/2021 vs. Jazz

Tammy Bolles

School: Newcastle Public Schools
Grade: Kindergarten and 1st Grade
Subject: Title I Reading
Game: 3/13/2021 vs. Knicks

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I had wonderful teachers in school. I wanted to be like them.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been teaching 31 years. I have been teaching at Newcastle for 30 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
Susie Steen----She has retired, but we taught kindergarten together for 13 years. She taught kindergarten at Newcastle for her entire career.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Hamidou Diallo

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
I would say to never stop learning!

Valerie Brink

School: Earl Harris Elementary School-Early Childhood Center - Bethany
Grade: Kindergarten
Game: 4/23/2021 vs. Wizards

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I believe teaching is a calling on my life to be a difference maker! It is a way to lead in love and live out my life’s purpose through serving children, their families and the community as a whole.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for 16 years. I have been teaching at my current school for 5 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
Every student I have taught, family I have worked with, and colleague that I have taught with has impacted me in one way or another. They have each stretched me, influenced me, and challenged me to be the very best version of myself I can be.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
With so many new faces and talents coming on board, I am super excited about this season to THUNDER UP and get to know this new Thunder crew!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
I would encourage young Thunder Fans that having an education is like having a master key to unlock the doors to their future! There is always something new and exciting to discover about a subject, about a topic, about yourself! You are never too young to start learning and never too old to stop. It is a life long journey filled with many amazing adventures!

Matthew Catlett

School: Muskogee 7th and 8th Grade Academy at Ben Franklin
Grade: 7th and 8th
Subject: English
Game: 4/7/2021 vs. Hornets

Why did you choose to become and educator?
That was a long, winding road but I would have to say it started with my own education. I had some great teachers throughout my time going to Collinsville Public Schools that were great inspirations to me to bring learning alive to my students just as they did for me.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been involved in education since I became an educational interpreter for the Deaf in 2008. I have been teaching for 8 years, 3 of those here in Muskogee.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
Ryan Buell, my current principal has been incredibly influential to me. He is one of the most supportive and positive people I have had the pleasure to work with/for. Another would be Brandon Lattimer, my pastor and mentor.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Take the opportunity to learn everywhere, not just in the classroom. The world abounds with things to explore and see – you just have to take the time to see it.

Timothy Collier

School: McAlester High School
Grade: 11th and 12th
Subject: Trigonometry/Calculus
Game: 4/10/2021 vs. Sixers

Why did you choose to become and educator?
The school was one of the major hubs of the rural community where I grew up. My teachers were some of the most influential adults in my life. I wanted to pay that forward.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my 34th year in teaching, and my 30th year at my current school.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
George Yott taught in the classroom next door to mine I my first years of teaching. He was the consummate professional. George lived out how all teachers should work with students.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Learning gives us a bigger menu of choices at each of life’s decision points. Keep learning, it is the source of your freedom.

Amanda Daniels

School: Hoover Elementary-Bartlesville Public Schools
Grade: Pre-K - 5th
Subject: Intervention Specialist
Game: 12/29/2020 vs. Magic

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I have been blessed with some amazing teachers and professors and these influential people helped to pave the way for me to become an educator. As far as why I chose Early Childhood education, that was easy. I knew the importance of giving every child the solid foundation they need as they embark on their educational journey. As an educator my hope is to have an impact on the lives of my students as my educators had on me during my educational journey. I hope within my teaching career that my former students will look back and realize that I wholeheartedly believed in them and fought to ensure their success. I realized early on that teaching is not just teaching a curriculum. It is teaching the students what they need, and that need is love.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
For 11 years and 7 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
To say that there was just one memorable teacher that paved the way for me becoming an educator would be an understatement. It takes a village and my village is amazing! I still remember walking into the classroom of my first grade teacher, Mrs. Baugh, and she was always smiling and ready to teach us. In her class, I remember writing our numbers to 1,000 and the first boy and girl who finished this received a kite from her. By the way, I didn’t receive a kite, however, I did get marks on my report card for “talking too much in class”. Just a few decades later, I was blessed to teach with her. She taught 6th at Talihina while I taught 1st grade. My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Adams, instilled in me the value of reading aloud regardless of age. Mr. Boren, my Elementary Coach and 7th and 8th grade teacher, always pushed me to succeed. He showed me how to teach with compassion regardless of the student and to always remember someone is looking up to you. My Ag teacher, Mr. Rose, taught me that FFA is not just sows, cows, and plows but more about developing leadership skills and valuable life lessons. During my college career, Dr. James White was my undergraduate advisor and also served as a member on my graduate committee. He taught me to push hard and never give up regardless of what life throws at you. He was diagnosed my senior year at Oklahoma State with a rare form of cancer. I remember like it was yesterday. I had a 7 am class with him, and although he had a procedure the day before, he was in the class the next morning. When it got to the point that he couldn’t walk, his amazing wife, Carol, would bring him in his wheelchair. It was then that I realized nothing could stand in my way of becoming successful. To this day, I think of him when my day is not going well and think if Dr. White could do it, so can I. If I can leave an impact on just one student that I am blessed to have, then I know that I will have been successful just like the influential teachers and professors who poured into me.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
My favorite Thunder player would be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Think of education as the seed of life. As with any seed, it needs to be cared for and nurtured in order to develop properly and bloom to its full potential. The seed is given to us at birth and our parents and family become our first teachers. They begin the process of nurturing and caring for us, then prepare us for the next phase of education. You see education is a journey that can take you anywhere you want to go. Education allows you to build opinions of the world around you as well as developing your own point of view on things in life as well as building perspectives of the world around them. Education is not just reading, writing, and arithmetic but everything that makes up who we are as individuals. Education is the key factor in which we learn to socialize, show sympathy, as well as empathy for others. Education is the essential part of the framework that shapes who we are and allows us to be a successful participant in society. Always remember that you are never too old to learn, to set goals for yourself throughout your life and that education will take you anywhere you want to go.

Leslie Davis

School: Cleveland Elementary-Oklahoma City Public Schools
Grade: 1st grade
Game: 4/29/2021 vs. Pelicans

Why did you choose to become and educator?
There were a few educators that made a huge impact on my life. I wanted to be an educator so that I could possibly impact someone else.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
For 9 years and 7 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I had a coach in high school that never gave up on me. I went through some tough times and she made sure I never gave up on my goals. She is the educator I strive to be.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
I have never really had a favorite. I have always been a fan, though!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Don’t give up, have fun, ask questions and always do your very best!

Lesa Dickson

School: Broken Arrow High School
Grade: 11th
Subject: AP Language and Composition
Game: 2/22/2021 vs. Heat

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I come from a long line of teachers beginning with my grandmother who taught in Oklahoma when it was still Indian territory. I grew up in my mother’s classrooms and always loved school. It was a natural choice for me to teach.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my 40th year to teach and 21st year at BAHS.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My mother.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Don’t take your education for granted. It is a privilege that many kids in other parts of the world would love have. Never turn down the chance to learn something new.

Jessica Eschbach

School: Norman North High School
Grade: 9th - 12th
Subject: Instructional and Technology Coach
Game: 2/3/2021 vs. Rockets

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I've always enjoyed working with people and helping them learn and apply new concepts, so I naturally fell into this career path. I love working with students and knowing that I can make a long-lasting impact on them and their future through my classes and lessons.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been a teacher for 8 years, all in Norman. I transitioned to Norman North High School this year as their Innovative Learning Coach.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
The most influential person in my career is Kathryn Lewis, who was the Director of Instructional Technology and Libraries in Norman for many years. She mentored me when I was a librarian and has supported me in all of my endeavors since then. She is a true expert educator and librarian.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
I am a huge fan of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
School is more than just the subjects you learn in class. You are always, unconsciously, learning how to better communicate, use critical thinking and reasoning skills, and be a more responsible and independent human being. Give every day your best effort and never be afraid to ask for help!

Ashley Ghrayyeb

School: Crosby Park Elementary – Lawton
Grade: Pre-Kindergarten
Game: 1/15/2021 vs. Bulls

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I chose to become an educator because I have seen so many passionate educators make an incredible difference in the lives of their students. I saw an opportunity to give back to my community by serving families and by serving our local children. I know without a doubt I am exactly where I should be, and doing exactly what I was meant to do!

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for 12 years, and I have been teaching Pre-K at Crosby Park for 5 years!

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
The most influential person in my career is my mother, who retired after a 40 year teaching career a few years ago. She showed me what it meant to be a passionate, caring, and devoted educator and gave me a powerful, lasting legacy. I am thankful that I had her example to set me on the right path, and to truly show me what it means to teach well.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
This is your chance to soak in the wisdom that has been hard-earned by others, to be creative and use your imagination, and to learn as much as you can so you’ll be ready to make the big decisions that are coming in life. Education is a tool to help you pursue your dreams and chase after your goals. Take the time now to invest in yourself and lay a strong foundation of good character, strong values, and critical thinking skills so you’ll be ready for the bright future that’s awaiting you!

Laura Grisham

School: Monroe Demonstration Academy – Tulsa Public Schools
Grade: 6th - 8th
Subject: Debate
Game: 3/11/2021 vs. Mavericks

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I chose to become an education because I love learning alongside students! I was a debater in high school, and I am honored to continue passing that skill along to our scholars at Monroe.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for a total of four years. I have been teaching at Monroe for two.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
The most influential persons in my career are my students. They are the reason I come to work every day. My job is the best job in the world because of them.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Lu Dort

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
I encourage all young Thunder fans to practice learning both inside and outside of school. Ask lots of questions everywhere you go!

Brittany Hamilton

School: Rosa Parks Elementary – Union
Grade: 4th
Game: 2/24/2021 vs. Spurs

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I became an educator in order to be the responsive adult I needed as a child. Education provides opportunities for students to grow as critical thinkers and lifelong learners. Each school day offers life lessons to help students strengthen their emotional resilience and emotional intelligence for future growth.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my fifth year at Rosa Parks Elementary in the Union district.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My mom, my aunt, and my grandpa are all passionate educators. They are the epitome of a loving and caring teacher who treats everyone with the utmost respect and grace-filled understanding. They taught me that love should be freely given, not earned.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Steven Adams

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Students are the future of our world. Even if someone doesn’t have an obvious connection to education, the quality of our society is based on the quality of our education. My message is that education must be a community endeavor as it affects every individual and aspect of our society. Find ways to get involved in your local schools to create a society that reflects our shared values.

Jessica Harraman

School: West Field Elementary – Edmond
Grade: 1st
Game: 4/14/2021 vs. Warriors

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I have always wanted my life to have a purpose that would allow me to have a profound impact on the world around me. I felt my life's calling was to serve the children in our community in order to empower students to go out and make the world a better place. I hope to inspire them to intrinsically want to explore the world on their own.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for 7 years. I have been teaching first grade at West Field Elementary for all 7 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
The most influential people in my career are the educators who taught me when I was a student in Edmond Public Schools. My teachers showed me that learning new things can be both exciting and empowering. They truly changed my life because of their enthusiasm for educating kids, and I now strive to inspire my own students in this same way.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
My favorite Thunder player is Hamidou Diallo.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
By working hard and valuing the importance of their education, young Thunder Fans open the door to endless possibilities of what they can achieve and who they can become. An education allows young people to become productive citizens in our communities. This ultimately allows them to become the very people who are equipped to make our world a better place.

Natalie Haworth

School: Durant High School
Grade: 10th - 12th
Subject: AP Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Forensics
Game: 5/2/2021 vs. Suns

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I chose to become a teacher because of the teachers I had growing up and their influence on me. I wanted to be able to make a difference on a daily basis while also imparting knowledge and life skills to my students, like they did for me. I also chose to become a teacher because I believe that education opens doors for so many opportunities in life and want to be able to help prepare my students to be successful in whatever path they choose to take in life.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been teaching since January of 2016. This is my fifth year at Durant High School.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I cannot narrow down the most influential person in my career, because each of my students have taught me so many life changing things through our relationship as teacher and student. They each have impacted me and who I am both as a person and as an educator and make me want to be a better educator and person with each day that passes.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
My favorite thunder player is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
My advice would be to never stop asking questions and trying to find answers to them, which is the basis of science and learning. Education and school are important and can lead to wonderful opportunities, but continuing to be a learner beyond your years in school is also important. You are more than a test and you are more than your grades, but trying your best every single day in everything you do will help you be successful in life as well.

Toni Henry

School: Tecumseh Public Schools
Game: 1/13/2021 vs. Lakers

Leslie Kennedy

School: Elk City Elementary
Grade: 3rd
Game: 2/26/2021 vs. Hawks

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I wanted to make a difference in the world. I love working with kids and seeing the “lightbulb” moment when students figure something out and it clicks in their little brains.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my 10th year teaching 3rd grade. I have been with Elk City Public Schools for all 10 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I have had various people throughout my career that I have looked up to. One in particular is Mrs. Friesen she was my principal for 4 years. She really pushed me to be the best I could be for myself and my students.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Currently I really like George Hill. He sets a great example of being a leader and showing great sportsmanship.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Always remember that tomorrow is a new day and with that new day comes new learning experiences. Your education is something you will always have and nobody can ever take that away from you.

David Lawrence

School: Jenks Public Schools
Game: 2/27/2021 vs. Nuggets

Amy Lennertz

School: Piedmont Intermediate School
Grade: 6th
Subject: Spanish and Theater Arts
Game: 1/17/2021 vs. Sixers

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I love learning and making new discoveries every day! Ever since I was young I have loved teaching others to love learning too. It is exciting to help others find new talents, learn new concepts, and develop their skills.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have taught for 8.5 years as a credentialed, full time teacher. I also substitute taught in long-term positions for 2 years. This is my 6th year teaching at Piedmont Intermediate School.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My mother, who homeschooled me for about 4 years while we were living in Ecuador, has been the most influential person in my career. With patience and grace she taught me music, life skills and academics. As my biggest encourager, she influences me to do my best every day.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Darius Bazley has been a lot of fun to watch this season!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
As you learn more every day, I challenge you to find what you are good at and work on developing those skills. When you make connections to your learning, you will be able to grow as a student, and as a person. Your education is a valuable gift that you give to yourself… keep working hard, because you are investing in YOUR future!

Becky Lockler

School: El Reno High School
Grade: 10th - 12th
Subject: History
Game: 2/16/2021 vs. Trail Blazers

Why did you choose to become and educator?
School has always been my safe space. I have loved school since a child and knew being a teacher was my destiny.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I am completing my 16th year and my 8th here at El Reno. The previous 8 were in Ringwood, Oklahoma.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
To be honest there have been way too many influential people to narrow it down to one. A previous principal, Pat Liticker was influential in encouraging me to try new methods and technology in the classroom. Not sure I would have grown as much as a teacher without this freedom to try new things.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Education is freedom to explore new opportunities in life. You own it and no one can take it from you. Even if it is learning a trade. Be willing to learn something new and to fail. Failure is often where we grow the most. It’s ok to start over.

Aaron Lusby

School: Waller Middle School – Enid
Grade: 8th
Subject: Science
Game: 12/31/2020 vs. Pelicans

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I had great teachers at all levels of my education, but the ones that inspired me most were my college professors. They were great at making the theoretical material we were learning practical and showed how it was useful in the real world. They also showed a warmth and genuine care for their students that made even large classes feel like small ones. Beyond the classroom, my professors also served as academic advisors, which meant they not only served as instructors but also as mentors and counselors to their students.

As an undergraduate, I began to realize that I liked the challenge of figuring out how to communicate complex concepts to others, and I wanted to emulate the successful way that my professors did that. I also realized that my professors built relationships with their students, particularly advisees, that would last beyond the four years of undergraduate work. I wanted to provide that type of mentorship as well. It has always been important to me that my students feel they can approach me outside of classroom for help with the material or anything else they may have on their minds.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my 17th year as an educator, my fifth year with Enid Public Schools, and my 3rd at Waller Middle School. I was a college professor before I started with EPS.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My Agricultural Economics professors at Oklahoma State University.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
It may feel like your situation will keep you from advancing in life. Whatever outside limitations you face, you can conquer them by acquiring as much knowledge as you can while at school and applying it through hard work. Knowledge, dedication, hard work – this is the way.

Linsey Mastin

School: Shawnee High School
Grade: 9th and 10th
Subject: English
Game: 3/14/2021 vs. Grizzlies

Why did you choose to become and educator?
The more removed from school I got, the more I realized what an important impact my teachers had on my life. Eventually I realized that I wanted to be able to contribute to someone else’s love of education, and to help students realize what they are capable of both in school and after graduation.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for five years, and have been at Shawnee High School for four and a half of those years. My first semester of teaching was spent at the Early Childhood Center with a fabulous class of preschoolers.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I had three women who taught me over my four years in high school, and I learned so much about literature, writing, and life from each of them. One in particular, who I had for freshman English and then again for Senior English, is now my department head, and leads by example every day. Her name is Cathy Megee, and I look up to her in so many ways.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
While I will always have a soft spot for Nick Collison, I am excited to see what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort add to our team!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
In basketball, no one wants to be a mediocre player. Everyone wants to try their hardest and stand out. Take that work ethic into the classroom! Just like working hard in practice makes you a better basketball player, working hard in school will make you a better student and a better person. Work ethic goes a long way towards excellence in any field!

Scott Mosby

School: Sallisaw High School
Grade: 9th - 12th
Subject: CTE Business Information Technology
Game: 2/6/2021 vs. Timberwolves

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I began teaching part-time as drumline tech after my first year of college. I have learned that seeing the positive results of good instruction, regardless of what you are teaching, is a rewarding experience.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I am in my 14th year as a teacher, and I have spent all of them at Sallisaw HS.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
There are so many people who I have helped me grow as an educator but I need to give a shout out to Jess Norman back at Village Academy who taught me that everyone has a story and a legacy.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
The Thunder are just getting started again with a new roster and I haven’t had time to adjust. I would go with Dort at this time.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Options. Being educated will give you MANY more options in life, so take advantage of the time you have now, to allow more opportunities later in life.

Jenefer Nelson

School: Grove Valley Elementary – Deer Creek
Grade: Kindergarten
Game: 5/1/2021 vs. Pacers

Why did you choose to become and educator?
Teaching is the most rewarding profession. I get the chance to take the dream of a child and help it grow. I see the future through my students’ eyes and from what I can see, we are on the path to something really great.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my 15th year of teaching and my 11th at Grove Valley.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
I had many outstanding teachers who helped me find strength in who I was and showed me that my uniqueness is what made me great. Their influence is evident in my classroom every day.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Lu Dort! His perseverance is admirable and something I preach to my students each day. When things didn’t go his way, he didn’t give up. He kept his head up and put in the work.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Your education is the most powerful thing you can use to change the world. Never stop learning, learn to embrace challenges, and never give up. Knowledge is power.

Michael Patterson

School: Guymon High School
Grade: 9th - 12th
Subject: Speech, Debate, Drama
Game: 3/27/2021 vs. Celtics

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I followed the family business. My dad was a high school teacher and mom was a grade school secretary.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
42 years

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My wife who has made the whole career possible.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
This year...Lu Dort.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
How we choose to educate determines the future of each and every one of us, our nation and our world. Dreams are great but education gives you the foundation to make your dreams a reality.

Whitney Sanders

School: Sand Springs Early Childhood Education Center
Grade: Pre-K
Game: 3/29/2021 vs. Mavericks

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I had a summer job at a day camp for at-risk kids. Some of the days were really rough, but no matter how hard the day was, I was always eager to go back the next morning, because I knew I was a positive adult in those kids’ lives.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for nine years, but started working at day camps, babysitting, and volunteering in my teens. I’ve been teaching in Sand Springs for the past six years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
The two most influential people in my career are my mom and my Mema who have both been educators my entire life. They’re incredible role models and I can always turn to them for the best advice. They’re also my biggest cheerleaders!

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Steven Adams. But since he left, I don’t currently have a favorite! Teamwork makes the dream work!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
The first piece of advice I’d give is to READ--find a genre you enjoy and read as much as possible! The second piece of advice is that the more effort you put into your education, the more opportunities you’ll have! Initiative and perseverance are key!

Skyler Smith

School: Pioneer Elementary School – Noble Public Schools
Grade: 5th
Subject: 5th Grade Virtual Teacher, all core subjects
Game: 2/1/2021 vs. Rockets

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I chose to become an educator because I believe childhood is the foundation for a person’s future. School should be a place where a student comes not only to learn academics, but to learn about their unique purpose and value in the world. It is my privilege, as an educator, to guide them in this process.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been an educator for eight and a half years. I have worked in 3 amazing districts and have been fortunate to work in my current school for the past 3 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
Th most influential person in my career has been my coworker, Angela. We have never had the privilege to work on the same team, yet we are constantly in conversation about how we can make learning more meaningful for our students. I have never met a teacher who loved and valued her students like Angela. Her kindness and skill is something that truly has shaped me as a teacher and a leader in this field.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
My favorite Thunder Player this season is Isaiah Roby. I love seeing rookies, like Isaiah, become worthy of their position on the team, I believe it sets a great example for students about how hard work really does benefit us.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
We always love cheering on others, like our players, but it is also important to cheer on yourself and speak positively about who you are and want to be! You can be anything you want—just be POSITIVE and keep pursing your goals!

Keri Smith

School: Independence Intermediate
Grade: 4th-6th
Subject: Gifted and Talented Education
Game: 12/28/2021 vs. Jazz

Why did you choose to become and educator?
Being an educator allows me the opportunity positively impact the future, one student at a time.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I am entering my 7th year of teaching. I have been at Independence 6 of those 7 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
My previous teachers, Mrs. King and Mr. Brown

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
George Hill

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Education is a pathway. Entering and staying on that pathway allows for so much growth and the freedom to truly experience the world.

Krista Starbuck

School: Washington Early Childhood Center- Alva Public Schools
Grade: Pre-K - 1st
Subject: Reading
Game: 4/5/2021 vs. Pistons

Why did you choose to become and educator?
My 4th grade teacher allowed me to peer tutor classmates that were struggling academically. This experience elevated my understanding of individualized learning and creative ways to foster success. I became an educator to continue to build relationships so I may influence lives academically, socially and emotionally.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been teaching for 25 years altogether; 14 at Alva Public Schools-4 years at Washington Early Childhood Center.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
DR. TEMPLE GRANDIN was influential to me in my career as a special education teacher.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
My favorite Thunder player is Luguentz Dort.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
LIFE IS A PUZZLE, USUALLY ONE THAT WILL GIVE YOU A HARD TIME UNTIL YOU FIGURE IT OUT.

Stephanie Terry

School: Del City High School
Game: 2/5/2021 vs. Timberwolves

Sarah Wingard

School: Northeast Elementary
Grade: Preschool – 5th Grade
Subject: Special Education
Game: 3/31/2021 vs. Raptors

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students with significant disabilities. My goal was to show the world that this population of students matter. They are an important part of our education system and that they are capable of great things, just like their typical peers.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
This is my 12th year of teaching and my 7th year at Northeast Elementary.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
Throughout my teaching career I have worked with several talented paraprofessionals that have years of diverse educational expertise. They have all taught me something very valuable and helped me look at certain situations through a different lens.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Darius Bazley – My Grandma is a big Thunder fan and he is her favorite player!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
Education is the best gift you can give yourself. Further your education by attending a vocational school or college and never give up on your dreams!

Katie Wonderly

School: Tulakes Elementary – Putnam City Schools
Game: 1/12/2021 vs. Spurs

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I have spent my entire life surrounded by outstanding music educators and wanted to pass down the magic of making music that was instilled in me through them.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I have been teaching for five years and have spent all of my time at Tulakes Elementary!

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
It is impossible to narrow it down to one person, when I get to spend every day surrounded by the most incredible teachers and leaders in the state. The educators, administrators, and staff of Tulakes Elementary School are unlike any other! They set the standard for what it means to invest in the lives of their students, their community, and each other!

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Luguentz Dort

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
There is no problem you can’t solve. Soak up all the knowledge you can within the school building, then go out into the world and learn even more. Explore new places, try new things, and never stop asking questions. People are always asking you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, but I love the questions Jaime Casap, former Chief Education Evangelist at Google, chooses to ask instead: “What problem do you want to solve? How do you want to solve that problem? And what do you need to know to solve it?” Once you have figured out what problem you want to solve, then you can focus your time on learning the skills it takes to solve it!

Lori Zimmerman

School: Woodward Public Schools
Grade: 6th
Subject: Language Arts
Game: 1/29/2021 vs. Nets

Why did you choose to become and educator?
I was in college and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life so I asked my mother for advice on what direction to take as far as a career choice. She told me I should become a teacher. She has been a teacher my whole life but I never thought I could become an educator as great as my mother. She told me to enroll in a few education classes and that was all it took to get me hooked. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m so glad I listened to my mother. I would have missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime ... teaching the young minds of our future.

How long have you been an educator? How long have you been teaching at your current school?
I am in my 23rd year of teaching. I have been teaching in Woodward Public Schools for 8 years.

Who is/was the most influential person in your career?
The most influential person in my career would have to be my mother. She was a 1st grade teacher for almost 40 years. She was a very kind hearted and soft spoken teacher and had the patience of a saint! I respected her passion for teaching and her inner drive to be the best teacher to her students. Since I became a teacher, I have been trying to model after my mother everyday at school. I constantly chose to chase the best version of myself every single day.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?
Steven Adams. He’s fierce!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?
One of my favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela~Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world. Be the change. Stay in school. Find your passion and get experience with what you love. Be open to new ideas. Take risks and see mistakes as learning opportunities and not failures. Always remember that your teacher is one of your biggest fans and will be on the bench cheering you on to success.

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