Lawton_Class is in session at Lawton's Central Middle School, but it's the teachers who are behind the desks. Educators from all over Oklahoma are enrolled in a program called "Great Expectations." It was developed in Oklahoma in 1991 and adopted by Lawton Public Schools (LPS) seven years ago. Now, even teachers in Mexico, the Virgin Islands, and Japan, are implementing the skills they've learned in their classes.
The unique program makes it seem as if the teachers are at recess rather than class. The program emphasizes that learning can be fun for both student and teacher. Altus teacher Kelly Zacharias has been teaching for 24-years, and this summer will be her third year enrolled in the program. Like her students, she is always learning new things. "I've been through the methodology, and what I'm learning is how to add to that, how to become a better teacher, how to learn how to draw better things from my students, how to put something more positive into them so I can get something more positive back," she said.
"Great Expectations" founder Charlie Hollar says passion is the most important aspect of teaching. "More than ever a passion for their job, really focused on the child - on the student, and with a lot of self confidence as far what they can do," he says. "They can change a life every day."
"Great Expectations" instructor Patricia Johnson helps create some of the programs teachers take back to their classrooms. "We want to see children laugh," she says. "We want them to be excited...you want noise in classroom." Mentor Betty Flurry says it's easy for teachers to become burned out, but after completing the summer program, she says their attitudes change. "There's a real high here. Teachers go home with a lot of vigor and vitality, ready to begin the next school year."
The program is so successful that even teachers overseas are adopting the lessons learned in the program. Seventeen years ago there were only 175 teachers and administrators attending the first workshop. Now, the program has trained over 27,000 educators.