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Lindsay Burkhalter is Ponca’s District Teacher of the Year


From Mary Ladd

Lincoln Elementary School teacher, Lindsay Burkhalter, has been selected as the Ponca City Public Schools’ 2017 Teacher of the Year.  The announcement was made at the annual Teacher of the Year Banquet held on February 25 at the high school commons. 

This year’s banquet had a unique twist that attendees will be talking about for years. Both microphones did not work – talk about technical difficulties! With over 200 people in attendance, it was impossible to try to speak. Educators are known for being able to improvise, and improvise they did! They had all the speakers for the evening go to the principal’s office to speak from the high school intercom system. Dr. Pennington attempted to speak to the crowd by standing in the middle and shouting, but the intercom was a much better solution. Banquet attendees were very patient and understanding. 

When Dr. Pennington made the big announcement that Lindsay Burkhalter is the 2017 Teacher of the Year, the crowd applauded and gave her a standing ovation.  Lindsay then made her way to the principal’s office to give her acceptance speech. She stated that it was actually a little easier not being able to see the crowd. 

 Ms. Burkhalter began by thanking her Lincoln family and the support she receives from her Principal and Assistant Principal. She brought one of her Lincoln students to the banquet as her date, and her parents also attended to support her. “Our kids deserve a great teacher,” said Burkhalter. “My co-workers go above and beyond every day for our students. Many times they buy them clothing, take them to dinner, and try to fill in for that absent mother or father. I work with amazing people who are making a difference in our kid’s lives every day! Thank you so much for this honor!” 

After giving her heart-warming acceptance speech, she returned to the podium in the commons to receive her honors, which included flowers from Dr. Pennington, a bronze statue of students holding stars, a proclamation from the State of Oklahoma (signed by Senator Eddie Fields and Representative Steve Vaughn), and a $500 check from the Ponca City School Foundation.  The Newkirk Dental Center also presented her with a check for $500. 

The evening started with an invocation by Reverend Larry Metzger from First Christian Church, followed by a buffet-style meal catered by Ponca City School Campus Mart.  Superintendent Dr. David Pennington gave the welcome and thanked everyone who helped with the banquet.  He gave a special thanks to the Child Nutrition staff for the meal, the high school National Honor Society students for serving, and all the Central Office personnel responsible for the planning and preparations for the banquet. 

Ms. Kari Hart, District Professional Development Committee representative, explained the Teacher of the Year selection process.  

Christie Brown spoke about her year as District TOY. “I wasn’t able to be at last year’s banquet when I won due to a previously scheduled mission trip, so I had to have a pre-recorded acceptance speech to be played at the banquet. I was really looking forward to speaking to the crowd this year. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be face to face,” as she gave her speech from the principal’s office! “I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from my school family and the community. We are making a difference in ways we don’t yet understand. It is a huge responsibility to teach to our future! We need educators with good hearts. We need to remember how blessed we are to be in Ponca City.” Ms. Trina Liles-Sims, representing the Friends of Education, presented the outgoing TOY with a gift basket. 

A media presentation was shown highlighting each TOY candidate, produced by Mary Ladd, District Public Information Coordinator and Chris Adams, Broadcast Engineer.  The video was made using the banquet theme “The Value of a Teacher Is Timeless.” 

Shelley Arrott, Executive Director of Human Resources/TLE, recognized previous Teacher of the Year candidates and introduced this year’s nominees.  As each candidate was introduced, student comments specifically written for their TOY candidate were read.  These student comments are always one of the highlights of the banquet according to attendees.  

Each candidate was presented a beautiful bronze statue of a student holding up a star, along with certificate from the District and $200 in Chamber bucks from the Ponca City Public School Foundation.  Assisting with the presentations were Dr. David Pennington, Marvin Clark (Board President), Barbara Cusick (Executive Director of Curriculum), and Teri Vogele (Associate Director of Curriculum). 

Dr. Pennington made the closing comments emphasizing that he is proud of the level of excellence in our Ponca City teachers.  “They make a difference not only by teaching students knowledge, but by forming lasting relationships that can truly make a difference in a child’s life.

We are very fortunate to have great teachers in our classrooms every day in Ponca City.”