Posted Date: 03/10/2022
Rebecka Peterson, a mathematics teacher from Union Public Schools in Tulsa, was named the 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year today in a ceremony at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Peterson teaches pre-calculus/trigonometry and Advanced Placement Calculus to grades 10-12 at Union High School.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the announcement, which comes with $10,000 in cash and prizes from community sponsors, including the use of a vehicle for a year to tour the state as Oklahoma’s next teacher ambassador.
“Rebecka’s success in the classroom can be measured not only through the achievements of her students, but through the professional growth of the colleagues she inspires as well,” Hofmeister said. “In addition to recruiting and mentoring, she leads through collaboration. Rebecka's enthusiasm and encouragement have motivated countless other teachers to strive to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and continue providing exemplary instruction to Oklahoma students.”
Peterson was recently named one of six state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). PAEMST is the highest recognition a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive in the United States. Peterson has been teaching for 13 years and has spent the last 10 years at Union High School.
“I want my students to know they are accepted exactly as they are,” said Peterson, a proud immigrant of Swedish-Iranian descent. “I am so proud of our mission as public educators, our mission that everybody’s in -- everybody’s welcome, no matter the color of your skin, no matter your ZIP code, no matter your gender.”
Peterson, who describes teaching as her dream job, helps administer the blog “One Good Thing,” in which she posts positive results from her classroom every day. She has contributed more than 1,000 posts to the blog, inspiring her students to reflect on hope and positivity in their own journals.
“I am who I am because of teachers – both my own and my colleagues,” Peterson said. “Thus, first and foremost, I would say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for inspiring me to bring my best every day. Thank you for modeling grace, love, kindness, gentleness and perseverance in the classroom.’”
One indicator of the success of Peterson’s students is their performance on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam. Her students’ pass rate has soared from 50% to 88% since she began teaching the subject. Many of her students have gone on to become math teachers themselves.
Beginning July 1, Peterson will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession. She will succeed Jessica Eschbach of Norman Public Schools, who will continue to tour the state until July as the 2021 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
Today's ceremony was made possible through a partnership with the Masonic Charities Foundation.
For a glimpse of Peterson in the classroom, view her teaching video here.
Rebecka Peterson shows her students at Union High School how to solve a math problem. Peterson teaches pre-calculus/trigonometry and AP Calculus and is the 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
Union High School math teacher Rebecka Peterson has been named Oklahoma’s State Teacher of the Year. Peterson was one of 12 finalists up for the prestigious honor. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced the winner this morning in Oklahoma City in a ceremony at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
“We are deeply pleased with the selection of Union’s Rebecka Peterson as State Teacher of the Year,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “Even among this stellar group of statewide nominees, I can think of no one who so epitomizes the qualities of teaching excellence. In every interaction with students, she shows great care and a generosity of spirit that is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Rebecka is a testament to the power of public-school teaching, and we are extremely proud of her.”
All finalists were named teachers of the year for their districts or schools and selected after their applications were reviewed by a panel of educators, lawmakers and civic leaders.
A small contingency of Union representatives, including Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler, Associate Superintendent Charlie Bushyhead, Assistant Superintendent Sandi Calvin and Senior Class Principal Tony Tempest were in Oklahoma City to celebrate with Peterson today.
Peterson’s honors continue. Last November, Peterson was named a state-level finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest recognition a K-12 math or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the U.S. Winners are expected to be announced later this spring.
Peterson said, “I became a teacher to add value and dignity to students — sometimes for the first time in a long time, sometimes just when they need it most. … I had no idea how much value my students would bring to me. I love teaching because I love who I am when I’m with my kids.”
Beginning July 1, Peterson will assume full-time State Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s ambassador for teachers, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.
Peterson teaches pre-calculus and AP calculus at Union High School. She was Union District Teacher of the Year for 2021, as well as an AP Reader for calculus. She has 12 years of teaching experience. Peterson holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of South Dakota.
“Teaching high school was never part of the plan,” Peterson said.
“This job found me, not the other way around. However, aside from my family, this job offered me my life’s greatest gift: It revealed my purpose and exposed a passion I cannot deny. I feel alive when I am with my students. I love who I am when I am with them. This job is my calling.”
The 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year is Rebecka Peterson from Union Public Schools in Tulsa.
Peterson is a math teacher at Union High School for grades 10-12. She teaches pre-calculus and advanced placement calculus.
The new teacher of the year was announced Thursday at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Tilsa World: https://tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/union-high-school-teacher-named-2022-oklahoma-state-teacher-of-the-year/article_321ddbfa-9a8d-11ec-b1f8-cf50bd8b0a87.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter_tulsaworld