By: Haylee Christopher, 11
Mrs. Peterson has worked at Union as a math teacher for ten years. Over those ten years she has inspired countless of her students through her methods of teaching. This year she had the honor of being one of the twelve finalist teachers for Oklahoma state teacher of the year.
Mrs. Peterson didn’t originally plan to teach high school classes, but after she taught concurrent courses for TCC she chose to teach high school students full time, saying, “The more I did it the more I loved the classes I taught here.”
The process of becoming a finalist for state teacher of the year included answering numerous questions, sitting down for interviews, and even writing some essays. Mrs. Peterson believes that it is important for people to see the joy of teaching and to see all the good that teachers in Oklahoma are doing. She says, “The thought that maybe my story helps another student or teacher is really humbling, and the idea of maybe having a year or two to advocate for teachers and students is also very exciting.”
If she wins, she will get to travel the state for a year and share the good that she sees daily in her classroom with teachers from all over the state. “I want to showcase good where teachers haven’t felt seen before.” Mrs. Peterson runs a blog called One Good Thing where she blogs every night something good from the classroom. She’s published over 1300 good things and hopes to be able to take that idea state-wide to help spread the idea of finding something good in every day. She would take that year to write about the good that she sees and take the opportunity to mentor other teachers and help them see the good that she sees. Mrs. Peterson said that the process has “reminded me of how passionate I am about training [and mentoring] other teachers.”
The past few years have been rough for everyone, but it has especially taken a toll on teachers everywhere. “It’s not easy not knowing what next week is going to look like – and I can feel kind of all of us holding in that anxiety.” Although it’s been hard, these past years have also been a learning opportunity because they’ve taught us about ourselves and the way we live our lives. Mrs. Peterson says that it taught her that it is ok to slow down, and that it brought to the forefront the importance of her students’ emotional and social wellbeing.
Finally, with the experiences that Mrs. Peterson has had, she lends some words of wisdom for other teachers “Be yourself, there is no one way to be a good teacher, don’t compare yourself to other teachers. I think Thomas Jefferson said, ‘comparison is the thief of all joy’ – we are our best selves when we are true to ourselves – the world needs who you were made to be.”
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