Bryan County teachers were not in class on Friday Aug. 31. They were at the Bryan County Teachers Meeting.
The Bryan County Teachers meeting is held on the Friday before Labor Day each year. The meeting honors all teachers in the county and recognizes each school’s teachers and administrators of the year.
Each year the meeting has a theme. The theme this year was “Why am I a teacher?”
Each school presents one elementary and one secondary teacher as well as one administrator to be recognized as their teachers and administrator of the year.
These teachers and administrators are then candidates for Bryan County Teacher or Administrator of the year. Each candidate submits a biography to be reviewed by a panel that does not know any of the candidates.
Candidates are from one of nine participating schools in the district: Achille, Bennington, Boswell, Caddo, Calera, Colbert, Kiamichi Technology Center (KTC), Rock Creek and Silo.
Elementary Teacher of the Year this year is Tela Frederick of Calera Schools. Frederick teaches literature, computer and physical education as well as coaching basketball at Calera.
She has also founded the Student Treasure Book Publishing project and Jump Rope for Heart program at Calera.
Frederick said in her biography that the reason she became a teacher was because she wanted to make a difference in our future by inspiring students.
This year’s Secondary Education Teacher of the year is Judy Ingram of Boswell. Ingram teaches math, language arts, English IV, geometry, keyboarding and social studies.
Ingram said in her biography that teaching must be genetic, listing her uncle, aunt, cousins, sister and daughter as family members that also have careers in public education.
Ingram says after 40 years as an educator, she is still in love with teaching.
This year’s Administrator of the Year is KTC’s Rhonda Collier. Collier has been a counselor at KTC for 16 years.
Collier said in her biography that she came into the education field when she realized that she enjoyed working with the youth at her church. She also realized she did not enjoy the business world.
The event is a collaboration of all participating schools. Each year one school is in charge of organizing the event and providing the entertainment.
This year Colbert was the hosting school. Colbert student Breawna McCraw sang the National anthem. She and fellow Colbert students, Nica Onstott and Jadyn Carter, provided the entertainment with song.
The majority of the meeting was spent on the keynote speaker. This year’s speaker was Mr. John Perricone.
Perricone is a high school teacher and author of the book “Zen and the Art of Public School Teaching.” The book is designed around two thoughts: We teach what we are and that our philosophical beliefs in life shape our identities.
During his speech Perricone challenged teachers to ask themselves who they were and why they got into teaching. He also emphasized the notion of Shoshin or beginners mind.
This notion suggests that one should go into the moment with the thought of “what I did yesterday is irrelevant. Only what I do today matters,”said Perricone.
Among many jokes directed toward teachers, Perricone spoke mainly about keeping a fresh mind while teaching.
Before and after breaks in the meeting, tickets were drawn and teachers received door prizes. Prizes were Walmart gift cards. The money contributed for door prizes was a collective effort of all participating schools.