April 30, 2017

Welcome to Tulsa’s News Channel 6 coverage of the 2017 teacher draft. We now take you to our chief education reporter, Roger Stone, to join the program in progress …

Good evening, Oklahoma. I’m Roger Stone.  I am pleased to be joined tonight by education analyst and professor, Dr. Paula Davis, from the University of Oklahoma School of Education.

Paula: Thank you, Roger. It’s shaping up to be a great night. This year’s crop of Oklahoma teaching prospects certainly looks strong on paper. Our state’s teaching schools have done a wonderful job preparing these candidates to be able to make an immediate contribution in the classroom. The draft room is really buzzing with anticipation.

Roger: You’re right, Paula. While the pool of candidates is down 30% from previous years, the quality of the remaining prospects is excellent. There is some depth at key positions like mathematics and special education. Yet, if previous trends hold true, these teachers will likely come off the board in the early rounds. It is going to be very competitive and I would not be surprised to see a lot of movement between schools.

Paula: Absolutely! Draft position has never been more important. I’m confident district human resource directors have been doing their homework and scouted these candidates carefully. I spoke with a group of them earlier and I can tell you they are anxious for a successful draft. It has been a difficult year for teachers in Oklahoma and schools are seeking to fill an unusually high number of teacher resignations and retirements this year.

Roger: Well, Paula, it looks like they’re ready to start down on the floor. Let’s go to Mike Sanders at the podium to announce our first pick.

Mike: Thanks, Roger and Paula. I have just received a text message from Dr. Deborah Gist, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. They earned the top pick after winning a coin flip with Oklahoma City Public Schools. Norman Public Schools earned the third pick due to the potential loss of 2016 State Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan to a neighboring state next year.

With the top pick in the 2017 Oklahoma Teacher Draft, Tulsa Public Schools selects (pause) … mathematics teacher JAMES ABRAMS from Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow! (crowd applause)

Paula: No surprise there, Roger. James has been a coveted recruit for TPS since his earlier days as a student at Booker T. Washington High School. A lifelong Tulsan, Abrams had a 4.4 GPA and was a National Merit Semifinalist at BTW. At NSU, he graduated at the top of his class and is already certified in both intermediate and advanced mathematics. They will likely place James back at his Alma mater to replace retiring calculus teacher, Pam Nichols. He’s a very exciting pick!

Roger: James is impressive, Paula. I watched some film of him teaching a Calculus lesson on sine and cosine derivatives as a student teacher. It was mind-blowing stuff!

Hold on, wait a minute, Paula. I am getting an update in my earpiece. It appears that James may have already signed a contract earlier today with Bentonville Public Schools in Arkansas. Yes, it has now been confirmed that James sent the following tweet 15 minutes ago:

Paula: Wow, that’s a tough break for Tulsa Public Schools. Our sources report that Dr. Gist has already picked up the red emergency phone to Teach For America (TFA) headquarters. It looks like TPS will be looking for another short-term fix to fill its holes for next year. Too bad for them, but you can’t blame James. Ten thousand bucks a year is nothing to sneeze at for a young 22-year-old right out of college.

Roger: Ouch! That’s tough to swallow. Let’s go back to Mike on the floor. He appears ready to announce the next pick.

Mike: With the second pick in the 2017 Oklahoma Teacher Draft, Dr. Aurora Lora with Oklahoma Public Schools selects (pause) … special education teacher MADISON TURNER, from Oklahoma State University!

Paula: Oh, she is a special talent, Roger. I have watched a lot of film on this girl and she can flat-out teach. Not only does she have strong content knowledge, Madison possesses a skill set not typically seen in a young educator. She’s already a master at maintaining student engagement through effective questioning techniques, as well as scaffolding her instruction to make complex topics easier to understand for her students.

Roger: You are so right about that, Paula. I observed her at the recent teacher combine. On one set of questions, she registered an incredible wait time of 8.2 seconds, a record for a first-year teacher. The mock students threw every disruptive behavior they had at her and she never once got flustered or upset. She is one cool cucumber!

Oh no, not again. Our producers just received this text message from Madison’s agent, Andrea Turner in Chickasha, who also happens to be Madison’s mom.

Roger: That’s a solid punch to the gut of Dr. Lora and her administrative team in Oklahoma City. It looks like they will be filling out a few more emergency teaching certificates to fill their classrooms next year. Bad break for those kiddos with special needs.

Paula: Well, let’s see what happens with the next pick, Roger. Norman is a wonderful school district with a lot of positives that might lure a young teacher to the community. Back to Mike on the floor …

Mike: With the third pick in the 2017 Oklahoma Teacher Draft, Norman Public Schools selects science teacher JACKSON BLEVINS from the University of Oklahoma (loud applause).

Paula: Terrific selection, Roger. Jackson is the top science teacher in this year’s draft. He is highly versatile and can teach multiple high school subjects, from Biology to Chemistry and AP Physics. He also interned at Norman North High School this spring so he is familiar with the system. With a good summer of professional development, Jackson will be able to contribute on day one.

Roger: With the current shortage of science teachers, Norman really needed this pick, Paula. Blevins has all the intangibles: positive rapport with students, high enthusiasm, the ability to scramble his lessons on the move, and an innate feel for the game. I have also heard he loves the Norman area and is unlikely to move.

Mike: Roger, you might want to check your feed. Apparently, a Facebook friend of Jackson just reported he has pulled his name from the draft pool. The friend forwarded this conversation between Jackson and his dad from last night.

Roger: Incredible! Things sure happen quick with today’s social media.

Paula: I am blown away, guys. It is starting to look a lot like last year when so many of Oklahoma’s most promising young teachers took their game to surrounding states or chose other careers altogether. School administrators across the state will be scrambling once again to place high quality educators in their classrooms before the start of the 2017-2018 season.

Roger: No doubt about that, Paula. Until state leaders do something substantial to address the budget problems in Oklahoma, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the next few years. And, you know who the real losers in this scenario are, right?

Paula: I do, Roger. It’s the kids, along with the future prosperity of our state.

Roger: Yup. It will be tough to build the team back up. But if there’s anything I know about the teachers of Oklahoma, they will do everything in their power to protect kids and make it work one more year. I just hope they can keep it up. Maybe we’ll pick up some good talent in the later rounds.

Let’s go to a commercial break …