After a two-month-long selection process, Will Rogers Junior High School teachers Tracey Niblack and Rhonda Bart have been chosen as the two finalists for Claremore Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Throughout the process, nominees were given essay topics that included the philosophy of teaching and ways to help improve teaching as a profession.
Names were removed and essays were then scored by the Professional Development Committee. The two highest scores became the two finalists for the district.
Bart is currently in her 20th year of teaching. She taught in Owasso for seven years, then taught at Central Upper Elementary before the 6th grade moved to the junior high.
“It’s quite an honor to be selected as finalist for a job that I love,” said Bart. “Whatever the outcome, I am still thrilled to be a part of the ride.”
Niblack began her teaching career at Claremore High School in 2000 as a social studies teacher. Niblack then moved to St. Louis where she taught at Ladue High School for four years.
After moving back to Claremore, she substituted at both the high school and junior high before becoming a math and pre-algebra teacher at WRJH.
In one of her essays on the philosophy of education, Niblack mentioned that classroom assessment should not be limited to state testing.
“Initially, I didn’t think I did anything special,” said Niblack. “I thought every teacher taught in this manner.”
Niblack said she appreciates all of the support she has received from her fellow teachers.
“I work for a pretty impressive district with great teachers,” she said. “To be selected as a finalist was the best I could have hoped for. I am very thankful for this opportunity.”
As district finalists, Bart and Niblack will complete five more essays before the teacher of the year announcement in early spring.