Teacher of the Year
On March 3, 2022 the Masonic Charity Foundation and the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma entered into our thirtieth year supporting the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Ceremony. Most Worshipful Master Scott Vincent was had the great honor of being the opening speaker for the event, not only to celebrate Oklahoma teachers and education but to commemorate our long and established commitment to education in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s 2022 Teacher of the Year is from Tulsa. During the ceremony, which was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Rebecka Peterson, from Union Public Schools, was named as the 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Peterson is an AP and pre-calculus teacher at Union High School. She has twelve years of teaching experience and during that time she has brought her AP Calculus pass rate from fifty percent to eighty-eight percent. Peterson said, “I feel alive when I am with my students. I love who I am when I am with them. This is my calling.”
Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year is a woman of many homes, from where she was born and lived in Sweden, to Oklahoma, and even Kazakhstan and Tajikistan all by the age of 16. She hailed her family’s immigrant story when accepting her award. She said she grew up with the sense of being on the outside looking in, and that she paid the greatest attention to her teachers as a child.
During her speech she stated that “Teachers have the power to turn a bad day into a good one, turn enemies into friends, and lift up even the most vulnerable students.” She went on to say, “That’s what has really been the pillar of my philosphy of education. I want my students to know they belong, that they are accepted exactly as they are. I want them to know their voice matters, they have a seat at the table.” She was chosen from a list of twelve finalists: Shannon Altom, Bixby Public Schools; Tina Dewey, Choctaw/Nicoma Park Public Schools; Emily Freise, Tahlequah Public Schools, Kerry Ingersoll,
Bethel Public Schools; Cindy Johnson, Collinsville Public Schools; Juan Renteria Jr, Norman Public Schools; Donna Ross, Tulsa Public Schools; Shelley Self, Coweta Public Schools; Kortni Torralba, Moore Public Schools; Sheila Treadwell. Snyder Public Schools; and Lauren Vandever, Bristow Public Schools. Every finalist demonstrated the best Oklahoma has to offer in the way of education and congratulations to them all for reaching the final round. Each finalist was awarded $1,000 and Rebecka Peterson $5,000 from the Masonic Charity Foundation.