Grace McEndarfer, a 2nd grade teacher at Bailey Elementary, was named the 2022 Owasso Public Schools Teacher of the Year on March 29 during a ceremony at the Mary Glass Performing Arts Center. McEndarfer was selected from a group of 15 OPS site Teachers of the Year by a committee of 30 OPS educators throughout the district.
“It is overwhelming to represent this phenomenal district,” McEndarfer said. “It is such an immense pleasure to truly be highlighted amongst a litany of incredible teachers. I was a student who deeply struggled in school, so for me it is very personal to be a champion for my own students. To have this moment of success feels like it’s not just for myself, but to give hope to my students that truly anything is possible.”
McEndarfer has spent her entire teaching career at Bailey Elementary, where she has served since the 2018-19 school year. During her four years in Owasso, McEndarfer has worked extensively to create a classroom environment in which her students feel that she is deeply committed to their success. She recognizes that each of her students enters class with unique abilities and challenges, which means they will master the educational content in different ways and at different speeds.
By differentiating the learning process, McEndarfer leads all of her students to experience the same activities, but on a level for their optimum success. Each student participates in a book club at their appropriate level to reinforce reading, vocabulary and comprehension skills. McEndarfer also works to include multiple modalities of learning that incorporate auditory, visual and kinesthetic opportunities for students. These ideas are actualized by teaching songs to help new knowledge literally “ring” in her students’ ears.
From the moment students walk into McEndarfer’s classroom, they are greeted by name with a high-five, fist bump or a hug. She believes this helps students feel cared for, safe and seen and allows them to better engage in the learning process each day.
Along with her duties in the classroom, McEndarfer is in her second year of serving as the 2nd grade team-lead for Bailey Elementary. In this role, she is able to have an active voice in helping to shape and create frameworks that benefit each of the nine elementary schools in OPS.
“This was a great night for our teachers and was accentuated by the fact that we could finally open our doors and allow everyone across the district to celebrate with them,” OPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Margaret Coates said. “I have such great respect for our teachers and the work they do every day serving our students. Miss McEndarfer's own personal experiences as a young student have translated into her passion to meet students where they are and differentiate instruction for their ultimate success. The love she has for her students and colleagues is evident in her mindfulness to cultivate kindness in her classroom and at her school site. She truly makes all of her students feel safe and loved, which is necessary for the highest levels of learning to occur and something her students will cherish for a lifetime.”
McEndarfer will complete the application process to be considered for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year over the next several weeks. She is the first OPS District Teacher of the Year from Bailey Elementary.
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