Alicia Abbott, special education
Special education teacher Alicia Abbott has been named a Teacher of the Year at the High School.
“I never wanted to be anything but a teacher,” Abbott said. “From the time I began kindergarten until I finished my last college course, I loved school and I loved learning! I was fortunate to have many great teachers throughout my educational career who encouraged my love for learning. Becoming a teacher enabled me to be a lifelong learner, and in turn, share my love of learning and the many opportunities education provides with my students.”
Abbott began teaching at Union High School in 1991. “This year is my 31st year teaching at Union High School, and my 39th year teaching overall,” she said.
Abbot said, “The definition of teaching and instruction has taken on a whole new meaning over the last year and a half. With virtual learning, in-person learning, distance learning, blended learning, all going on at the same time, the challenge looms large, especially as we strive to meet our goal of graduating 100 percent of our high school students, career and college-ready. Student needs reach far beyond the academic skills of the classroom. It takes a lot of collaboration, teamwork, and thinking ‘outside of the box’.”
Abbott has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Tulsa and aa master’s degree in applied behavioral studies from Oklahoma State University. “I have certifications in the following areas: Emotionally Disturbed, Learning Disability, Mentally Handicapped, Autism, Multiple Disabilities, Other Health Impairment, and Traumatic Brain Injury.”
Sandra Bybee, math
Math teacher Sandra Bybee has been named a Teacher of the Year at the High School.
“I started tutoring my friends my sophomore year in high school,” Bybee said. “I enjoyed helping and seeing my friends’ success. I found ways to explain math that was different than our teacher did and helped my friends to understand. I have wanted to help kids learn and find the joy in math for over 36 years. I want my students to be ready for college and their careers. I love when past students come back and tell me how well they are doing in the next course or out in the real world. I tell them it is because of all the information I shoved into their brains!”
Bybee started teaching at Union in 2012, after moving from Missouri where she had taught for 21 years.
How is teaching going this year?
“My classes have been great!” said Bybee. “This year we have been able to get to know each other easier because last year was so stressful for everyone. We are back to doing projects, writing in class, and having conversations that are so important. It’s been WONDERFUL!”
Bybee received her bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri State University, and her master’s degree in technology from Lesley University.
“I am certified to teach mathematics in grades 7–12,” she said “I have taught at the community college level. I continue to look for professional development to better myself for my students.”
Rexanne McCrary, English
English teacher Rexanne McCrary has been named a Teacher of the Year at the High School.
“I didn’t want to be a teacher, I wanted to be a news anchor,” McCrary said. “On the drive to Oklahoma State University, my father talked me out of it. If I wasn’t going to be in the spotlight, then I thought I would be a speech and drama teacher and make school a fun place to be. Later I added English to my credentials and learned quickly that being involved in my students’ lives was more rewarding than sitting behind a news desk reporting about them. Sometimes plans don’t work out and what seems like a backup plan can be the best result; you just weren’t open to it and couldn’t see the bigger picture. Over 24 years, I have experienced with my students their trials, tragedies, and triumphs. I didn’t want to be a teacher, but I became one - a teacher who values her students and their stories by being open to them.”
McCrary started teaching at Union in 2013. “My husband was a youth minister for 23 years, so I’ve taught in several districts including Jenks and Bartlesville,” she said.
“This year’s extra challenge has been teaching while undergoing treatment for cancer,” McCrary said. “Teaching is part of who I am, and it brings normalcy to my life. I have pushed myself this year to keep up with my expectations just like I push my students. I’ve had to face the unknown, something I’ve asked my students to do for years. I’ve had to battle both physically and mentally. They’ve seen my vulnerability and it has opened them up to share what they are going through. From applying for a job for the first time, grandparents being diagnosed with cancer, to insecurities about the future after graduation, the conversations continue to happen. My hope is that students will be inspired by my work ethic and realize anything is possible if you just believe in yourself.”
McCrary holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Oklahoma State University, and she is certified to teach speech and drama PK-12 and English 5–12.
“I am a National Board Certified Teacher in English Language Arts/Early Adolescence and have just completed the rigorous task of certificate renewal through 2031,” she said. “I have accumulated nearly 200 hours of continuous education through the College Board. I am also the Instructional Team Lead for 11th grade English at the High School.”