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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 districts 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.

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Sarah Dunlap-Dennis

School: Checotah High School

Grade: 11th

Subject: English

Game: 10/4/2021 vs. Sixers

Career Length: 18 Years

Current Position: 4 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

My mom was a career teacher and I had great teachers in my life. They inspired me to follow in their footsteps and continue to make a difference in the lives of our youth.

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

My first grade teacher and mentor, Sandy Garrett. She served the state as the Superintendent of Education for many years and has been a wonderful example of a professional, influential educator.

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 want kids to know that they have the ability to make the world a better place by getting a good education. The world needs creative thinkers and innovative leaders like them!

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Aaron Toler

School: Bethany Middle School

Grade: 8th

Subject: U.S. History

Game: 10/26/2021 vs. Warriors

Career Length: 17 Years

Current Position: 16 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I switched majors several times during college, but once I took my first education class I was hooked. I cannot picture myself doing anything else!

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

I was fortunate to have a number of different teachers and coaches who positively impacted me as I was growing up. Teachers and coaches who pushed me and encouraged me to do better and be better. Now, I have been blessed to work alongside many of these same teachers who taught me and call them friends.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

I can’t pick one! SGA, Dort, Giddey, Poku, Bazley, Kenrich, Muscala, Ty Jerome...

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Be curious and keep asking questions!

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Blaine Atchley

School: Tecumseh High School

Grade: 9th

Subject: Oklahoma History

Game: 10/27/2021 vs. Lakers

Career Length: 7 Years

Current Position: 5 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I chose to be an educator to make an impact on the next generation of students. I have a passion for history, and I believe by teaching history, I could help students understand how to avoid the mistakes of the past while aiming to recapture the successes of the past as well.

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

The teacher who influenced me the most as a student was my 11th Grade U.S. History teacher, Carolyn Holloran. Her passion for her students and history inspired me to want to be a teacher greatly. If I could only be half the teacher she was, then I would be a great teacher. I am forever thankful for her for inspiring me to enter the field of education.

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?

Education is the key to unlocking opportunities in life. Never give up on yourself or your education, as you never know where life will take you. With a good education, you will always give yourself options in life. Always commit to learning something new every day, and you will continuously grow as a person.

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Shelley Self

School: Coweta High School

Grade: 10th

Subject: High School Art

Game: 11/7/2021 vs. Spurs

Career Length: 30 Years

Current Position: 30 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I first was on a journey to be an artist but found I had a gift for teaching art in Sunday school classes and as an intern in college. I am passionate about sharing my talents and igniting my students to learn and discover more about visual arts.

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

I interned under Carol Corley who was a high school art teacher at Ft. Gibson. She was amazing and she was inspirational with how passionate she was about teaching art. She mentored me and allowed me to find my footing and start my journey towards teaching high school art.

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?

My advice to young Thunder fans is to always be curious about learning. Each teacher has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Your teaches' guide you but also inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

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Carolyn Rowbottom

School: Tuttle High School

Grade: 12th

Subject: Algebra 2, Senior Capstone, Marketing

Game: 11/12/2021 vs. Kings

Why did you choose to become and educator?

Originally, I had no intention on teaching. I quit college halfway through, got married, had kids and then... I homeschooled my boys until they reached high school age when they chose to go to public school. I didn't know anyone in the school and it was suggested that I sign up to be a substitute. Four long term math substitute positions later I decided I LOVED teaching these young people. I went back to college, finished my degree, passed all of my state tests and I am now in my 6th year teaching. I love watching the lights come on in the student's minds and being a good influence for our next generation.

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

There are two incredibly influential people in my career. The first is a fellow teacher who, when I was completing my last long term substitute position, came in with college applications, put them on the desk and said, "Go back to school! You need to be teaching permanently in the classroom". Her name is Shelley Bradbeary and if it hadn't been for her, I may not have had to courage to go back to college so late in life.The other influence was my husband, Jim. He supported me for two years while I took a ridiculous amount of classes each semester so that I could graduate early. He stayed up with me the first week I was back in college and cheered me on as I cried, trying to write my first term paper in over 30 years. Without his support I do not think I would have done as well, but I finished school and graduated in 2015 at 45 years old.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Shai Gligeous-Alexander or Tre Mann (because I love his hair)

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Education is very important. Whether it is finishing college, attending and completing a certification in any one of Oklahoma's amazing technical programs, or on the job training, we need to continually be learning and growing. Education improves not only our knowledge base, but also with our social skills and the ability to communicate on a higher thinking level with others.

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Lauren Stahlman

School: Horace Mann Elementary

Subject: Elementary Special Education

Game: 11/14/2021 vs. Nets

Career Length: 13 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

In high school, I worked with children in a variety of settings through volunteer opportunities and babysitting. I loved the excitement, joy, and wonder that young children displayed when engaging in learning activities. I realized that my combined love of learning and my passion for working with young children were pointing me toward my future career. Teaching was a natural and easy choice for me, and the only career I want.

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

It's hard to name just one person because I have had a number of personal teachers from my school days, co-workers, and students who have influenced my teaching. One of the most impactful educators in my career was Kristie Brown. I completed my student teaching with her and she shaped my teaching in such a positive way. Many of the strategies I use today came from her. Each and every student who has been in my classroom has influenced my teaching. I have learned something from every student, and they will always be "my kids."

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Luguentz Dort

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

I tell all of my students, "You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You can do hard things. I love you and believe in you." I would tell all young Thunder fans that your teachers feel the same way about you! We know you can succeed. When you come to a challenging task, don't be afraid to ask for help. Instead of thinking "I can't," say to yourself, "I can't do it yet." Strive for your best and believe in yourself!

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Joy Ruiz

School: Piedmont High School

Grade: 11th

Subject: Yearbook

Game: 11/15/2021 vs. Heat

Career Length: 24 Years

Current Position: 6 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

Upon entering college, I had intentions of pursuing a major in computer programming. I have always been drawn to technology and the problem solving skills that programming requires. After beginning programming classes, I realized that while I enjoyed computer programming and was good at it, I would not be fulfilled with a career in this area. I needed to be involved in a career where I could make a difference and be directly involved with people. As I pondered my career options, I began to reflect on the people that impacted my life the most up to that point. I realized that, besides family, the most influential people in my life were my former teachers. This led me to pursue a career in education, and I have never regretted my decision.

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

While there are many people who have influenced my career, there are two teachers that really stand out to me; my second grade teacher, Mrs. Winona Bruner, and my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Don Harlan. Both of these teachers taught with a love, passion, and excitement for learning that was contagious. Just like Mrs. Bruner and Mr. Harlan, I try to motivate and encourage my students by teaching every day with love, passion and excitement.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Rumble the Bison

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

I would like encourage all of the young Thunder fans to work hard and never stop learning. Seek answers with determination and don't be afraid to fail. Failure often provides our biggest opportunity for learning and growth. With a positive attitude and a growth mindset, the sky is the limit!

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Jenny Little

School: Clara Reynolds Elementary

Grade: 2nd

Subject: All Subjects

Game: 11/17/2021 vs. Rockets

Career Length: 13 year in public school

Current Position: 3rd year

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became a teacher for the human connections and I have a soft spot for troublemakers.

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

There are several people who have been instrumental in helping me get this far. My husband always tells me I can do it and to keep going when I am feeling overwhelmed, my mom is always encouraging me and my three daughters have helped with everything from laminating and grading to decorating my classrooms. These are my people, the ones that keep me going.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Josh Giddey

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Education is so much more than reading, writing and math. It's learning how to build positive relationships, it's learning how to be responsible and encouraging others, it's learning how to set goals and persevere. It is going to be HARD sometimes but it's so worth the effort.

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Amanda Myers

School: Pioneer Elementary – Noble

Grade: 5th

Subject: Math

Game: 11/24/2021 vs. Jazz

Career Length: 30 year in public school

Current Position: 4 years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

My fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Zachary was a great influence in my decision to become a teacher. He was the first and only male teacher that I had during my elementary years and a major impact on my choice of career. I could see every day how much he loved teaching and loved us as individual students. He took the time to share personal stories and experiences with us regularly. I realized he wanted us to know him and wanted to know each of us in the same way. There was mutual respect between teacher and each student. I knew I wanted to pay forward to other students the influence and connection that was shared between my fourth-grade teacher and myself. I believe my teaching style creates a safe environment for kids and gives them a role model that builds upon the morals that are important to our society, and helps facilitate experiences so that students become accustomed to learning independently.

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

My dad was a great influence in my career. His career was not as an educator but as a farmer. He didn’t make much money being a farmer but he was doing what he loved. This was evident by how hard he worked, sunup to sundown. He did this not because he had to but because it was his passion. He taught me to find a career that I can be passionate about and work hard to do my best at that career. He also taught me the importance in investing in others and building relationships. It is because of my dad that I am passionate about teaching kids and building relationships with them.

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?

I would encourage students to learn to be independent and responsible. Having these as a foundation can encourage students to take pride in their work, be creative, and find joy and self-confidence in themselves as they venture out on their own as they mature to be young adults.

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Amy LaPointe

School: Will Rogers Elementary (Ardmore)

Grade: Pre-K

Subject: English Language Arts/Social Studies

Game: 11/26/2021 vs. Wizards

Career Length: 28 Years

Current Position: 4 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

In teaching, I found a career where I could use my God given talents of piano, guitar singing, and dancing to inspire children to learn and to create a joyous experience in education. Often people talk about professions as a calling; I think that for me, teaching, particularly teaching young children is a calling. Upon reflection, part of the reason I feel comfortable in a classroom is that I grew up in a family of ten. My siblings and I were in fact a cacophonous classroom of sorts and while at home mother and grandmother were both creative teachers, because they too were creative teachers in actual classrooms, making me a third generation teacher. (In fact, Grandmother was a teacher in a one-room school.) Not only did I go into teaching but also two of my sisters were teachers and they too, inspired me.As a single mother providing for my children, teaching was also a good way to provide for my family and continue to place my own family as a priority. These were the things that inspired me to become a teacher. However, it is seeing the joy of learning in my student’s faces and watching them grow successfully throughout their educational process that keeps me inspired to continue as a teacher.As I have continued to teach there are several things I take pride in. I feel I am a highly nurturing teacher that treats students with respect. I strive to empathize and work well with each of my families. I have always enjoyed and got along with my colleagues, the camaraderie of teaching is powerful. I feel as though it is my calling as a veteran teacher is to help my team. As part of a team, I work hard to be reliable, dependable and consistent. More meaningfully, I enjoy differentiating my instruction so that all students can learn. This is evidenced by superlative student progress, through years of high test scores.

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

In the paragraphs above, I mentioned my sisters and family were a tremendous influence on my entering the profession. Day to day in school, we work together as an educational team, so I would also be influenced by my team. As with the Thunder, teamwork is important in teaching. However, if I really think about it, the biggest influence on me as a teacher are my own children and grandchildren. As a parent, watching my children grow and interact with society, their teachers, their classmates and listening to them talk about their schooling, provides me with an excellent opportunity for reflection and thought about my own pedagogy. As a mother and grandmother, I look at my classroom with a heart full of empathy.

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?

I think about what we teach in Pre-Kindergarten, manners, getting along with a diverse peer group, self control, teamwork - but also self reliance. Ultimately these are the roots of a quality eduction. A good education enables you to achieve your dreams, be more confident, and realize your ambitions. You will be a better citizen, more successful in your career, a better friend, and ultimately education gives you the tools to thrive in a world of opportunity.

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Lauren Vandever

School: Bristow Middle School

Grade: 7th

Subject: Reading

Game: 12/1/2021 vs. Rockets

Career Length: 9 years

Current Position: 7 years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

Education is a lifelong journey for me and my family. I always knew I wanted to be an educator after seeing my grandparents and my parents in the classroom. I also always loved reading and the power of books, so I wanted to help share that with students and help those who struggle to read succeed.

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

I have had fantastic teacher and principal mentors in my 9 years. My first principal, Brian Burden, taught me so much about loving students, teaching through the hard times, controlling myself when students are acting out, and how to lead with grace and passion. He passed away in early 2020, and we still talk about his leadership and character daily in our school.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

My advice to young people would be to find the thing in education that brings you joy. That will start to lead you towards a career or passion that will lead your adult life. Try new things and see what works best for you.

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Megan Hurt

School: Freedom Elementary

Grade: 1st

Subject: Reading

Game: 12/10/2021 vs. Lakers

Career Length: 13 Years

Current Position: 7 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became a teacher because I wanted to shape the lives of children and make a difference. There is no better investment than that of our children. They are our future!

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

My grandma was the first of many educators who inspired me to become a teacher. I was in her fourth grade class and loved helping her before and after school. I knew the classroom was the place for me! Now I am part of an amazing team of teachers, led by an incredible principal; they inspire me daily with their dedication, hard work, and passion for our Freedom students.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

They all impress me!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Education is the key that will unlock all your dreams!

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Michelle McCarver

School: Rosewood Elementary

Grade: K through 5

Subject: Elementary Music

Game: 12/12/2021 vs. Mavericks

Career Length: 12 Years

Current Position: 2 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

God placed teaching on my heart as a little girl. In elementary school I often came home from school to "play school" in my bedroom. This desire increased as I developed a passion for music and a joy in imparting that passion onto others. God has clearly been in the background my whole life orchestrating different events and desires in my heart to lead me so clearly to the place I am now. While there are so many "factors" that led me to choose the teaching profession, it really boiled down to one factor. The one that is behind all of the mini-factors that may seem more tangible to discuss. As a woman of faith I recognize that the mini-factors are honestly pawns in the hands of THE factor, which is God. He put that desire in my heart at a young age, He grew that love for the career through opportunities to teach, and He placed people, circumstances, and experiences in my life to guide me towards the profession. In essence the "factors", the mini-factors, were really fingertips of His sovereign hand to make the classroom my home. I chose the teaching profession because the Lord, without question, called me to it.

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

There are several people placed throughout my life to encourage, train, and direct me to become the teacher I am today. This field of influence certainly includes mentors, teachers, and truly amazing experts in the field of elementary music education. However, the biggest influence is, no doubt, my family. Teaching is not easy. It is not a walk in the park either. It is a sacrifice of time, emotions, and often affects those closest to us the most. The support and grace imparted by my family is one of the most impactful influences that I have experienced throughout my career. I honestly do not know how I would manage the difficulties of this career without them.

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?

Throughout my childhood I had a love for both music and athletics. The extra-curriculars at school was the engagement piece that I needed to continue aiming for higher academic goals. I would encourage any young Thunder player to continue seeking their hobby, whatever that is, and to allow that to become their "hook" to persevere through all aspects of their school career. This requires determination, intrinsic motivation, and sacrifice. All three of these qualities will help mold and form you into becoming great at whatever you choose to do post high school graduation. Speaking from the perspective of where I am now, a music teacher, you never know your hobby may help direct you to your profession.

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Sheila Treadwell

School: John D. Moeller Primary Snyder Public Schools

Grade: Pre-K

Subject: All

Game: 12/15/2021 vs. Pelicans

Career Length: 24 Years

Current Position: 21 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became an educator because I wanted children to have a love of learning. As a Pre-K teacher you are one of the first teachers the child will have and I want that experience to be a lasting one. Not only with the child, but also with the parents. I want my students to feel safe, secure, loved and confident. When these things happen, there is no stopping the learning that can take place. I want parents to feel welcome and know their child will be loved unconditionally. When a child goes home excited to tell their family about their day and can't wait to come back tomorrow, then I have made a huge impact on that child and their learning.

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

The most influential person in my career has been my husband, Dr. Gregory Treadwell encouraging me that I could accomplish anything, my Bachelor's in Education and Early Childhood, my Master's in Education and then finally my National Board Certification. The other was Dr. Margie McMahan who was one of my professors. She made me truly understand the difference in DAP and DIP in Early Childhood. DAP being Developmentally Appropriate and DIP being Developmentally Inappropriate practices. These two influential people have made the teacher I am today.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

SGA, I love that gets involved with Reading and Kids!

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

I would tell young Thunder fans to never stop learning! I am 63 years young and I still dance, sing and learn new things every day. Once you learn something, NO ONE can take that away from you. Knowledge is power! I would tell them to learn to read and read for pleasure and knowledge. If you can read, you can accomplish just about anything!

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Emily Freise

School: Tahlequah Public Schools

Subject: Speech Language Pathology

Game: 12/18/2021 vs. Clippers

Career Length: 16 Years

Current Position: 15 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I always knew I wanted to be in a profession that served people but working in education was not something I had considered for a career. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when I was young, and I watched the disease slowly rob him of his ability to communicate effectively. I wanted a profession where I could help people like my dad better connect with their world. I first started my career as a medical speech language pathologist working in a hospital with pediatrics and adults, but I soon realized that my true passion was in working with and teaching children. Now, I am blessed daily to get to teach and help students improve their communication skills, which is one of the most important life skills a person can possess.

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

I will always be grateful to the numerous educators who have invested in me. I would say the most influential people in my career have been my three children and my prayer partner, Lorie McGee. My children constantly teach me, challenge me, humble me and broaden my perspective. I want the very best for my children, which challenges me to be the best I can be for other people’s children. In addition to my children, my prayer partner has had an immense impact on my career. Lorie mentored me for over a decade, consistently encouraged me and daily modeled what it meant to be a servant teacher. I am so thankful to have had her example to follow and learn from.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Lu Dort

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

The old saying, “Knowledge is power” is true! An education is one of the best gifts you can obtain, and it should not stop once formal schooling is over. We can always learn more and challenge ourselves to be better. Be a life-long learner!

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AJ Graffeo

School: Deer Creek Middle School

Grade: 8th

Subject: Cheer, Leadership, Creative Technology, Yearbook

Game: 12/22/2021 vs. Nuggets

Career Length: 5 Years

Current Position: 5 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became an educator to inspire my students to think outside the box, explore new things, be difference-makers, and ultimately to dream big, never letting anyone steal their dreams from them. The motto of my classroom from year to year is "Make It Happen." I love being able to defy the norm, challenge my students and myself, and tackle big projects for my school and the community, ultimately making a difference in countless lives every school year. The built-in community that goes along with education is also one of my favorite parts of being an educator. I love being able to build and maintain a positive school community that everyone can be proud to be a part of, wear the school colors, support classmates, and grow stronger together.

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

The most influential person in my career is my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Jones. She inspired me to become an educator by being a positive role model and by making education fun while I was in school. In my classroom today, I draw from my experiences in Mrs. Jones' class and always remember to go the extra mile so my students are able to dream more than others think is practical and accomplish more than others think was possible.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Josh Giddey

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

I would tell young Thunder fans that education is the foundation to all other careers and to take responsibility for their education. If they do this and lay a solid foundation, they will be able to accomplish anything in life. Also, don't be afraid to try new things and travel outside of your comfort zone as that is where the magic happens. Trust yourself and trust your teachers.

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Rachel Morris

School: McAlester High School

Grade: 11th

Subject: English Language Arts

Game: 12/26/2021 vs. Pelicans

Career Length: 15 years

Current Position: 11 years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I always wanted to be a teacher growing up. My grandmother was a teacher and my mother also worked for Mid-Del Public Schools. They constantly encouraged me to do my best and meet my goals. They are one of the reasons that I became a teacher.

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

There have been so many influential people in my education career that it seems that there are too many to name. Every administrator that I have worked with has not only encouraged me to do my best but also helped find ways to expand my reach in assisting other teachers.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Josh Giddey

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

My words of advice to young Thunder fans are take advantage of every educational opportunity you have in front of you to help make our world a better world!

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Kat Jensen

School: Cotteral Elementary

Subject: Library Science and STEM

Game: 12/31/2021 vs. Knicks

Career Length: 17 Years

Current Position: 9 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became an educator to be there for students like I was as a child. Those that struggle sometimes with learning or staying focused. I wasn't the best student and didn't necessarily always like school. So I am here to support and encourage students that feel like I did. Show them they can do it, and help them to succeed. I also love making learning fun and engaging, so my students want to learn and get to be very involved in their learning.

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

I don't think you get to this point in a career without a lot of influence. I believe everyone you meet especially other educators probably has something that they are amazing at. So, I really have been influenced and taught by a lot of really amazing educators. I like to borrow from everyone I see doing something great with their students and just put my own twist on it so it works for me. I am always learning and asking questions of my fellow teachers. They are always helping me grow, which then helps my students learn and grow. We should never stop learning.

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?

I would say never give up. Education is important and even if something is hard that doesn't mean it is impossible. Just keep seeking those people you trust and let them help you towards success.

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Danielle Petty

School: Owasso Public Schools

Grade: 12th

Subject: Junior and Senior English

Game: 1/2/2022 vs. Mavericks

Career Length: 10 years

Current Position: 5 years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I chose to become an educator because young people need as many people to believe in them as possible. I want to instill joy and a love of learning in young people. I want them to learn to think for themself and be able to clearly explain why. I want to be there for those who are too busy surviving to dream; sometimes we have to dream for those kids. Working with young people is challenging at times, but most of the time it is exhilarating to watch them become more of themself. Getting to be on a part of that journey with them is a privilege that I treasure.

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

There isn't just one person who has been the most influential person in my career. I have been blessed with fantastic mentor teachers, administrators, and a whole tribe of people outside of the education realm that constantly cheer me on as I continue to pursue my dream of teaching.

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?

Education is important because it unlocks opportunities to your future that you weren't even looking for to begin with. Continuing education, whether it be through college, a technical school, or other certificate earning institutions, allows you to grow and become more successful. Learning new skills should bring you joy and pleasure on your way to reaching your dreams.

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Amy Fetters

School: Willard Elementary School

Grade: 5th

Subject: Math

Game: 1/7/2022 vs. Timberwolves

Career Length: 13 Years

Current Position: 9 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I loved school and I loved helping out my friends in school. So I knew I would love helping student.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Education is super important. You may think you won't use the things you are learning in school, but I promise you that you will use more than you think you will. Work hard so you can accomplish everything you want to become in your life!

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Jana Dunlap

School: Muskogee Early Childhood Center

Grade: Pre-K

Game: 1/15/2022 vs. Cavaliers

Career Length: 33 Years

Current Position: 21 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

My mom is a lifelong educator. Growing up I could see she truly enjoyed going to school everyday. She didn't see it as work or a job but a true calling. She treated her students and their parents with kindness and dignity. She loved her students and they loved her. Watching her and seeing her tremendous love and passion for teaching definitely influenced me to become a teacher.

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

There have been so many influential people throughout my teaching career. It would be extremely difficult to name just one. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most amazing educators.Debbie HorseChief encouraged me to be a leader among my colleagues. Malinda Lindsey allowed me to teach outside the box and motivated me to take my teaching career to the next level. My ECC Green phase team supports, encourages and inspires me to be the very best teacher for my students.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

My advice to young Thunder fans is to allow yourself to be curious about the world around you, ask questions and seek answers. Always keep learning.

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Juan Renteria Jr.

School: Truman Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma

Grade: 5th

Subject: All Subject

Game: 1/24/2022 vs. Bulls

Career Length: 7 Years

Current Position: 7 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

My mom is From a very young age, I knew that I had to do well in school. Not just for myself, but to honor my parents and the many sacrifices they had made for me. As a first-generation college graduate, I’ve been able to contribute something so special to my students that my parents instilled in me, which is a deep sense of pride and respect for education, as well as hope for a better future. By sharing my journey with others, I have been able to highlight the beauty of learning and the towering walls it can tear down. Additionally, by emphasizing my culture, the language, and the wonder that exists within it, I invite my students and the entire school to use their personal stories to make their own contributions to the world.

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

My parents have served as my greatest teachers and the most influential people in my life! My parents raised me, loved me, and pushed me to fight for the future I wanted, just like they had. Additionally, my parents always valued the idea of education and the promise it carried of infinite possibilities, and just like they placed me on their shoulders and allowed me to touch the sky, I will continue to lift my students, so that they may reach the stars. That will be my greatest contribution to education.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Josh Giddey

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

We live in a time where now more than ever we need connectors, bridge builders, to lead us. The world is so torn that the only way to heal is to acknowledge one another and to construct new bridges. Marvel’s Black Panther states that “more connects us than separates us, but in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.” I encourage all Thunder fans to inspire unity in their communities and empower all to be better.

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Mary Hanson

School: Douglass Learning Center

Grade: 8th

Subject: Literacy Support/Personal Financial Literacy

Game: 1/28/2022 vs. Pacers

Career Length: 36 Years

Current Position: 2 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and when one door closes another one will open. It was because of a door closing that I walked through the open door that led to my educational journey. To be honest, becoming a teacher never entered my mind as a career choice, my hope was to become an anesthesiologist, but that did not happen. It was during my freshman year in college that I made some bad choices and my GPA suffered the consequences of those decisions. The next year I found myself lost and unfocused until I took a course titled “Children’s Literature”. It was then I landed on MY path and I found my passion: EDUCATION. I make a point to share this story with my students, because as future high school freshmen they will have the opportunity to start fresh with a new GPA and it is important for them to see that everyone makes mistakes... we learn from them and move on.

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

I have had the opportunity to work with some AMAZING educators and to narrow it down to one is simply impossible. I have been lucky to have supportive principals who allowed me to think-outside-of-the-box and try innovative ideas in my classroom. Dr. Laura Puccino, Eddie Williams, Jerri Manning, Tara Grandy, and my current principal, Keli Collins are true leaders and motivators! Kris Burd and Vanessa Perez led me by the hand into the world of “technology in the classroom” and still today help me with ideas. Dr. Kimberly Stormer was the most creative literature teacher I ever worked with. She was able to motivate the unmotivated using text that appealed to her students and because of her I use song lyrics, poetry, gaming guides etc. to teach reading concepts in my classroom. And finally the most influential teacher I ever had was my dad. He taught me the values of hard work, compassion and acceptance.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Josh Giddey

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Jon Bon Jovi once said “Map out your future-but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.” Everyday, teachers are helping you prepare for your life journey. From collaboration that encourages you to share ideas that lead to discussion, to innovative strategies that create a classroom environment of safety and acceptance, teachers are helping you map out your path that will lead to your future. This is no easy task. It will require you to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, change your mindset, and take time for self-reflection. Your journey, most likely, will have many pencil smudges and eraser marks and that’s okay! Take chances! Live Big! And NEVER stop learning!

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Christie Buckner

School: Monroe Elementary

Grade: 1st

Subject: Physical Education

Game: 1/31/2022 vs. Blazers

Career Length: 35 Years

Current Position: 12 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

The reason I became a teacher was that I have always wanted to do something special and make a difference in this world. I have always loved working with children so it only made sense to become an educator. Children are our most precious commodity and need as many positive influences in their lives as we can provide. Teachers are entrusted with the unique opportunity of educating those children that will be tomorrows citizens. I can't think of a job that is more special than that of a teacher.

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

The most influential people in my life would have to be my parents. My mother's belief in me gave me the confidence to accomplish anything I put my mind to. She was the most positive influence in my life. My father instilled in me his hard work ethic and the idea that in order to be successful you had to work it and nothing that is worth having ever comes easy.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Josh Giddey

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Having an education affords you many opportunities that you might not ever experience without an education. It lays an incredible foundation that allows you to build a better life and it can never be taken away.

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Lauren Querbach

School: Wiley Post Elementary

Grade: 1st

Subject: All Subjects!

Game: 2/7/2022 vs. Warriors

Career Length: 8 Years

Current Position: 3 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

While I was in college, I volunteered as a reading tutor at the public elementary schools near campus. I was shocked at the vast differences between schools and the inequities many students were facing based on lack of funding, mental health resources, and staff. I knew I couldn't single handedly solve the inequitable conditions I had witnessed, but I felt a calling to do everything in my power to be a part of the solution. However, what I find more important than the reasons I chose to teach are the reasons I continue to teach. I continue to teach on the good days, the days that feel like I won the lottery, the exhausting days, the hard days, the days where I feel like I’m failing, and every other kind of day because I believe wholeheartedly that every student deserves a teacher who will show up and fight for them without question every single day.

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

I always say that I would absolutely not be the teacher I am without SO many other teachers. I learned from incredible teachers as a student and I have been mentored by incredible teachers as a teacher myself. One person who continues to inspire me daily to be a better person and educator is my current assistant principal, Jennifer Meacham. Because of conversations with her, I was able to find my voice in my own building and district and I have not stopped speaking out about the importance of educational equity since. I have been lucky to work alongside her to create new opportunities for our students and staff. Witnessing her put so much thought and care into every single student has inspired me even on my hardest days to keep fighting the good fight.

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?

An education is the most valuable thing you can give to yourself. It's going to be hard sometimes, but that's okay because you absolutely can do hard things. Your teachers believe you deserve every opportunity in life and are here to help make that happen. Take chances, jump out of your comfort zone whenever you can, and show up for yourself every day! We'll be right there with you every step of the way.

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Jennifer Penick

School: Lakehoma

Grade: 3rd

Subject: Reading

Game: 2/9/2022 vs. Raptors

Career Length: 25 Years

Current Position: 1 Year

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. My mom, grandma, aunt, and uncle are all teachers, but spending time with my grandma in her classroom in Pauls Valley is where I discovered that teaching is my passion. It is exceptionally fulfilling to witness a student's growth in academics and see the impact it also has on their self-confidence.

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

My parents have always encouraged me to seek God's will for my life, work hard, and do the right thing no matter what. Those character traits, instilled in me from a very young age, have helped me stay focused on the important things in life. But having children and walking by their sides through the ups and downs of their educational journeys has helped me develop my teaching craft more than any other experience. Boone and Briar continually help me learn more about how to help and teach others every day and have definitely been the greatest influence on my teaching career.

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?

Education opens doors that you don't even know are there. Dream BIG, work hard, do the right thing, and your education can take you literally anywhere. Oklahoma has endless opportunities whether you choose to go to college or to our incredible Vo-Tech schools. Find what you are passionate about, learn the skills you need to work in that area, and your work will be so rewarding that you will blink and 25 years will have flown by!

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Tina Dewey

School: L.W. Westfall Elementary

Subject: Special Education

Game: 2/16/2022 vs. Spurs

Career Length: 19 Years

Current Position: 9 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I had some wonderful teachers as a child. My kindergarten teacher made learning fun from my first day of school. From the moment I sat in the rocket ship she made for our classroom, I was hooked! I loved school and wanted to create the same creative and innovative learning environment for students in my classroom.

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

Dr. Donna Cloud was an important influence on the educator that I am today. I did my student teaching with her in 1994. She was a master teacher and demonstrated how to run a well-managed classroom with love, patience, and understanding. She taught me lessons that I will carry with me always.

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?

Education is a life-long process. Be patient and kind with yourself. Give yourself grace to make mistakes and learn from them. Continue working towards your goals, and don't give up on yourself.

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been entrusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -Michael Jordan

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Sandra Bradley

School: Horace Mann Elementary School

Grade: 5th

Subject: Special Education

Game: 2/24/2022 vs. Suns

Career Length: 20-plus Years

Current Position: 6 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became an educator because of the calling and a gift it is to teach.  Why would I consider it a gift?  Every day, the opportunity is given for me to teach children of any age.  Thus, teaching young people or more seasoned folks, whichever it may be, is a present that allows me to be involved in the unwrapping of treasures inside the minds of others.  As for teaching being a calling, I knew early on in life that one of God’s purposes for me is to teach others.  Being raised in a home where faith was important, I just knew that He wanted me to teach others.  Therefore, even in my early years, I began teaching my stuffed animals, my friends and the neighborhood kids. Basically, I began to teach anyone who would sit still and tolerate my shenanigans.  Over the last 20+ years, doors have opened that have allowed me the privilege of teaching a wide variety of people in both the private and public sectors. With regard to age, my students have been as young as preschoolers and as seasoned as 60 year old adults.  As I have followed the call to teach others, life’s journey has given me the opportunity to teach in other countries, in other states and right here in my hometown of Shawnee.  Being involved in the challenging of minds, the broadening of views and the growing of brains has been and continues to be a joy.  Each opportunity to teach has challenged me to become better at what I do and to be creative in my approaches without doing the same old thing each time.  Getting up in the morning knowing that I have the chance to expand young minds is something that I truly enjoy.

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

My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Jenkins. She made learning fun and helped everyone be successful. Ms. Howard (1st and 4th) and Mrs. Wilsie (2nd) also impacted my love for learning and God used each of them to shape my character and love for teaching.I became an educator because of the numerous people God placed in my life to instill in me the passion to help others better themselves as I bettered myself. As educators, we make a difference daily in the lives of our students and community.

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?

Education is vital for every career and provides opportunities that impact our lives forever. Stay in school, do your best, and make a positive difference in your community and lives. You can do anything you set your mind to.

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Morgan Brown

School: Jenks Middle School

Grade: 8th

Subject: Art and Global Studies

Game: 2/28/2022 vs. Kings 

Career Length: 11 Years

Current Position: 7 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I had a passion for art and learning so intense that I couldn't really do anything else. I simply had to share that excitement. I thought high school was the right place for me, at first, and I really enjoyed my four years at that level, but middle schoolers ... those are my people. Life is so weird at that age, and it turns out it's the perfect time for them to take creative risks.

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

It's impossible for me to narrow it down to a single person, but I'll try to get it to a small hoard. Currently, my principal, Dr. Nick Brown, has been a tremendous influence by simply saying yes when I have what might seem to others to be an insane idea, such as teaching 8th graders about a new country every year and then taking them to that country, but he rolls with it and adds fuel to the fire. For that, I'll be ever grateful. Then there's the incredible tribe of women who raised me, taught me, coached me, and challenged me from infancy into adulthood. My dance teachers were the first ones I remember sparking that joy associated with creativity and challenge, quickly followed by family, in particular my Mom, instilling in me a love for reading and play. Three teachers that I can say changed the course of my life without a doubt would be Jill Webber, my high school art teacher, Judy Ramsey, my junior high English teacher, and Lisa Larios, my high school debate and drama coach. They are truly some of the most amazing women I've ever met, and I am so fortunate to have crossed paths with their brilliance and kind, caring hearts. I do what I do today because of their example, and I will forever be in their debt for what they've given me.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Lu Dort

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

School is not a one-size fits all kind of situation, so don't despair if you're struggling to find success. Start by finding something you love and surround yourself with people who can support your growth and challenge you in that area of your life. That's where the joy is and that's when you'll realize that education really is the key to solving all of the world's problems.

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Brenda Zacharias

School: Richmond Elementary School in Stillwater, OK

Grade: 5th

Subject: Math

Game: 3/4/2022 vs. Timberwolves 

Career Length: 26 Years

Current Position: 18 Years

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became an educator so that I could be a positive influence in the lives of children

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

The most influential person in my career is my mom. She raised 5 children and was also a teacher. She demonstrated much love and patience in both areas. She showed my that loving and teaching children is worth the challenges.I

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

I enjoy watching them all.

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

I would like to tell young Thunder fans to do your best in school. Find a subject or topic that you enjoy and learn about that. Also, read everyday for enjoyment.

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Donna Ross

School: McKinley Elementary

Grade: 5th

Subject: Math and Science

Game: 3/6/2022 vs. Jazz 

Career Length: 27 Years

Current Position: 1 Year

Why did you choose to become and educator?

Every child deserves the opportunity to to be his or her best self. I became teacher because of my passion. I enjoy equipping the minds of young scholars with useful tools they can use at school, at home, and in life. I want help my students make connections academically and social and emotionally, as my teacher did for me. My classroom is the beginning of of changing the world to become a better place for you and me.

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

The most influential persons in my education career can't mention unless you say them both, my parents, Don and Diane Ross. My parent believe that educations is an essential part of life. My parents were my first teachers. They pushed me, corrected me, they believe in me, and they supported me all the way. My parents taught me to be creative, teach and reteach, and always go in with the end in mind. I get so excited when I hear them say, they are proud of me. That confirms that my job is well done.

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?

My advice to anyone regarding education is to know learning never cease. One should always be prepared to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding a variety of subjects so they my apply to ones daily life. Building the relationships with students, parents, and your community is a major benefit with educating the whole child. Its okay to seek help from your coworkers. Everyone in the building is essential to students progress. Remember your students look up to you even when they are not looking. So, there their attitude is a reflection of your leadership. Go Be Great!

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McKenzie Hodge

School: Wheeler Middle School

Grade: 5th

Subject: Science

Game: 3/8/2022 vs. Bucks 

Career Length: 6 Years

Current Position: I have been teaching 5th grade Science for 3 years now, and taught 1st grade 3 years before that!

Why did you choose to become and educator?

My earliest memory of knowing that I wanted to be a teacher, comes from unwrapping my very first easel, whiteboard on one side with a chalkboard on the other. With Expo markers in hand, filled with excitement, lesson ideas began to flood my mind. Ask any of the stuffed animals at my first lectures, they will tell you the passion for teaching and love for learning has always been a driving force in my life. I have been so blessed that God has instilled a passion in me for this profession. From every student that has impacted me, to colleagues that become my dearest friends and serving this city that I get to call home, I cannot put into words how thankful I am to play such a small part in this process. The teaching profession is challenging, yet so rewarding, and I am very blessed to teach with the family that I do at Wheeler Middle School.

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

There are so many influential people that have encouraged and inspired me throughout my career. First, my teammates, past and present, are the real deal. Every student that enters their room is blessed beyond belief for the passion they bring into the classroom daily. I wouldn’t be the educator I am today without learning from and growing alongside such passionate people who love what they do. It has been such a gift, learning from and loving each student that has walked through my door. My students also are so influential in my career and keep me going each and every day. They know the days that all we need is some chocolate and a good dance party, and rejoice on the days that we are celebrating all of their successes with a class “family” lunch and more dance parties. They are the reason we do what we do and love what we do!

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?

I would encourage our future doctors, scientists, artists and musicians, in their educational journey, hoping that what they learned within our four walls, they bring with them into the world. With every student we as educators have taught, I am convinced their hearts and minds are ready to make this world a better place, and they will do it! Schools aren't just buildings where educators come to teach, or where students come to learn. It’s a special place where teachers get to pursue their passion, and students are supported as they find out more about the person they want to become, and have a group of encouragers cheering them on to success. I would encourage them to keep pursuing their passions, because it is through them that our world becomes a better place!

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Rebecka Peterson

School: Union High School

Grade: 12th

Subject: AP Calculus

Game: 3/13/2022 vs. Grizzlies

Career Length: 13 Years

Current Position: 10 Years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I became an educator to add value and dignity to my students, and to set them up for success in whatever field they choose. What I didn’t know is how much value they would add to *my* life. I love who I am when I am with my students – they bring out the best in me. I hope I bring out the light in them, too!

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

The most influential person in my career is my husband, Brett. He has cheered the loudest for each small and large success in the classroom, and he’s held me in my dark times, too. I can say with complete certainty, I wouldn’t be who I am in the classroom today without his love and support. He—and our son—are my world.

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?

Education is the key to unlocking your potential! Your teachers and counselors and principals are in your corner and want you to live the truest, most beautiful version of your life! Let us know how we can help you. You are our future, and we love you. 

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Kerry Ingersoll

School: Bethel Lower Elementary

Grade: Kindergerten

Game: 3/14/2022 vs. Hornets

Career Length: 18 years

Current Position: 16 years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

When I was a child, it was not uncommon to find me in my bedroom with my animals and dolls set up around me teaching class in my imaginary classroom. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I am thankful for the opportunity I get each day to impact students.

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

One of the most influential things that has influenced my career as a teacher is becoming a foster parent. Learning to see things through the eyes of a child who has been through trauma and learning how their brain and body reacts to stressful situations has taught me how to handle situations as they arise in my classroom. There is no amount of structure or consequences that will pull a child from a fight or flight point of view to a place where they feel safe. Relationships do that. Building relationships and meeting student needs is the foundation. If that means you come a few minutes early so you can fix a student’s hair, you do it. If that means you keep snacks for a child with food insecurities, you do it. If it means you send extra clothes in a backpack every few weeks, you do it. We can’t teach them, until we can reach them. Teaching today is so much more than curriculum and grades. So many of our students are coming to us hurting and broken. While it may not be our job to heal their hurts and break generational trauma, it IS our job to love and lead with high expectation. It IS our job to speak life into children so we can light their world with new opportunities.

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?

Words of advice for young Thunder fans is to always do your best. If your best is straight A's, strive for it, work hard for it. Your best might not be straight A's but as long as you give your best, celebrate that. It takes all kinds of people in every kind of profession to make our world work. Follow your heart and do what you love. 

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Cindy Johnson

School: Collinsville High School

Grade: 12th

Subject: Mathematics (Algebra 2, Precalculus and Advanced Placement Calculus)

Game: 3/21/2022 vs. Celtics

Career Length: 28 years

Current Position: 4 years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I always wanted to be a teacher growing up. My grandmother was a teacher and my mother also worked for Mid-Del Public Schools. They constantly encouraged me to do my best and meet my goals. They are one of the reasons that I became a teacher.

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

There have been so many influential people in my education career that it seems that there are too many to name. Every administrator that I have worked with has not only encouraged me to do my best but also helped find ways to expand my reach in assisting other teachers.

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?

My words of advice to young Thunder fans are take advantage of every educational opportunity you have in front of you to help make our world a better world! 

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Shelly Hudson

School: Rose Witcher Elementary

Grade: 1st

Game: 3/23/2022 vs. Magic

Career Length: 6 Years

Current Position: 5 Years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

As many children do as they grow up I looked to those around me for what I might want to do as an adult. This went through many phases and even led me to first get a degree in horticulture. After being a mother and looking to go back into working full time I could no longer deny my desire to teach. My mother was a teacher and librarian for many years. Practically growing up in a school building I had many influences in my life on what a great teacher looks like. Those wonderful examples and this inside desire to help children grow and learn is what led me to become a teacher.

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

My mother, she was an amazing teacher. Her students love her and always have stories to tell on how she touched their lives. She started her career teaching English and Drama to high school students. She then became a librarian. She has shown me how to be resilient and to never settle for being mediocre. Everything she does is with her whole heart and that is how I face life too.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Lu Dort

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Life is about taking risks, stepping outside your comfort zones, trial and error situations. Attending school gives you a safe space to try new things. Take this time to learn about things that will help you later on in life. Even if at the time you think, "I'll never use this". I always tell my students it is ok to try and fail but, it is never ok to give up. We have a saying in our class when things get hard, "We got grit, we don't quit!" Another saying we have when someone messes up is, "You're still cool". I think both of these have created a caring and empathetic environments for my students to work in. 

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Duncan Fugitt

School: Edmond North High School

Grade: 11th

Game: 3/30/2022 vs. Hawks

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I chose to become an educator because I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of children.

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

The most influential people in my career have been the community of teachers that I work with at Edmond North. I have had an outstanding community of educators around me to help me learn and grow and would not be where I am without their support and encouragement!

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?

Education has the power to provide you with opportunities that you could never imagine possible. If you are willing to take your education seriously, it can open up doors to countless careers, jobs and possibilities regardless of where you come from!

 

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Jennifer Phillips

School: Grand Avenue Elementary

Grade: 3rd

Subject: ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies

Game: 4/1/2022 vs. Pistons

Career Length: 17 Years

Current Position: 11 Years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I chose to become an educator because I wanted to be a positive influence in the Following in my parents' footsteps, I saw the value that teachers add to the lives of their students. My parents championed for their students and dedicated their lives to educating children. I knew that being a teacher would give me a lifelong purpose and passion for empowering children to be creative, intelligent, and strive for excellence.

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

The most influential person in my career is my mom. She set the standard of what a teacher is and the philosophy that relationships come first, then the academics. My mom showed me that if you could reach the child, you could teach the child. Every step of my teaching career, she has been right behind me, offering encouragement, feedback, and support. She has pushed me to excel far beyond what I have even thought possible for myself, and she will always be proud of the teacher that I am.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Lindy Waters III

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

No matter where life takes you or what road you travel down, your education is the one thing that no one can ever take away from you. Educating yourself allows you to think for yourself, provide for yourself, and believe in yourself.

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Dustin Morrow

School: Charles Page High School

Grade: 10th

Subject: Biology, AP Physics

Game: 4/3/2022 vs. Suns

Career Length: 20 Years

Current Position: 15 Years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I chose to become an educator because I wanted to be a positive influence in the lI wanted to do something where I felt like I could make a difference in the lives of people.

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

My students. I learn so much about strength and perseverance from 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?

Education is vital in helping young people to find their passion and in getting the tools to pursue that.

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Sandy Winn

School: Independence Intermediate

Grade: 5th

Subject: English Language Arts/Social Studies

Game: 4/5/2022 vs. Blazers

Career Length: 31 Years

Current Position: 4 Years 

Why did you choose to become and educator?

I chose to become an educator because I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of children.

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

My husband, Todd Winn, has been the most influential person in my teaching career. He is an educator as well, and has been a shining example of what a teacher should be. He leads by example and truly works for the good of children. If I could be even half of the educator he is, I would consider myself a success.

Who is your favorite Thunder player?

Kenrich Williams - current (Nick Collison - All time)

What words of advice would you give to young Thunder fans regarding the importance of education?

Education helps us to grow and develop into productive citizens. It also opens the door for opportunities you never thought possible.