OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO)- Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year was announced August 30 at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
The title went to Jon Hazell, a science teacher at Durant High School. Hazell will travel in style and attend different events across Oklahoma in a new car. He will also award one high school senior in his district with a $5,000 scholarship from The Edward C. Joullian foundation.
A graduate of Durant High School, Hazell has taught anatomy, biology and environmental science for 33 years in the Durant Independent School District. In addition to teaching, he is the lead pastor at United Church of Tishomingo.
"My purpose as a teacher is not so much to motivate my students as it is to create an environment where they motivate themselves," Hazell wrote in his state Teacher of the Year application.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said Hazell's commitment to education is evident in the contributions he has made to his community.
"Jon has a true servant's heart, giving back to his neighbors and teaching his students to do the same," Hofmeister said. "From sponsoring food, clothing and toy drives to raising money for a student stricken with leukemia, Jon is a gifted, inspiring speaker who will be a tremendous ambassador for the profession. In Durant, he is near the border of Texas, where a teacher could earn more, but his commitment is to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma."
Hazell said he was inspired to teach by his father, Don Hazell, who taught biological sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for 32 years.
"I grew up with constant reminders and affirmation of the respect afforded to the teaching profession. That created a spark in me," the new Oklahoma Teacher of the Year said. "It showed the influence a teacher could have not only on students but also on all the people those students influenced."
Hazell helps inmates learn to read and complete their GEDs as part of his five-county prison ministry. He is a sponsor of the Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school, he is also the ropes course lead facilitator at Crosspoint Camp on Lake Texoma. The course is designed to enhance student cooperation and teamwork.
Hazell will remain in his classroom for the rest of the school year. Starting July 1, 2017, he will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma's teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.
"Teachers not only teach, they encourage, mentor, listen, engage and inspire. No amount of thanks can express our gratitude for what they accomplish each and every time they enter our classrooms," Hofmeister said.
For more information about the finalists, visit http://sde.ok.gov/sde/newsblog/2016-07-25/2017-oklahoma-teacher-year-finalists-and-rising-stars-announced
Two educators from Southwest Oklahoma are among the twelve finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Charmin Holland of Duncan and Kristen Dover of Cache were named teacher of the year for their own district at a summer conference in Edmond. Each finalist received prize money for one-thousand dollars sponsored by the Masonic Charity Foundation.