We hear it every day. Oklahoma teachers are underpaid, overworked and feel unappreciated; yet our educators have one of the most important roles in shaping our future. Our teachers deserve to feel respected for the important work they do. The YME Foundation is proud to be a frontrunner in changing the education atmosphere in Oklahoma. YME is impacting the larger education system through supporting our teachers and students and helping them reach their full potential. Oklahoma’s teachers won’t feel neglected–not on our watch!
This year, our foundation recognized 7 outstanding educators here in Oklahoma. These teachers were chosen from a pool of hundreds of deserving teachers to participate in a day of recognition and awards leading up to a night of pampering and fun at the Chesapeake Arena on February 24, 2017, when the Oklahoma Thunder took on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Broken Arrow High School teacher Diana Phillips fought back tears as she explained,
“my student wrote the [nomination] letter for me, it wasn’t my colleagues or another adult; my student wrote it for me. I’ve seen him since he was in ninth grade. Now he is a Senior. I’ve seen that growth in him. The fact that he would choose to write a letter about me – when he is the one that inspires me so often, really means a lot”.
The YME Foundation, KXOJ, and the local community partnered together over-the-air waves to honor the more than 800 teachers nominated with similar heartwarming stories who have inspired and changed the lives of the students they serve. The seven finalists were then notified by an emotional surprise visit by KXOJ and YME founder Jake Schellenberg. Teachers were showered with gifts from local sponsors: Nothing Bundt Cakes, Stems Flowers, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, PUR LUX Nails, Southern Tire Mart, The Melting Pot, and The Hamlet Honey Kissed Hams. We would like to extend the warmest thank you to these sponsors for helping teachers feel appreciated and valued. Lastly, Jake awarded each teacher with a big night out for themselves and their family members. These seven teachers and their families were “treated like royalty” according to Tobey Bullington from Vandever Elementary School. She continued to say, “[that] doesn’t happen a lot when you’re a teacher”.
In addition to being showered with gifts and adoration, an emotional ceremony was held for each teacher at their school, giving these teachers the recognition they deserve. We would like to thank the administrators who cooperated with the event, allowing our camera operators and radio talk show host to enter the premises.
After the festivities commenced, the big night out awaited. A limousine (courtesy of Luxury Limos of Tulsa) transported them to the Chesapeake Arena to watch the Oklahoma Thunder take on the L.A. Lakers. Luxury Limos of Tulsa was donated to the YME Foundation in 2016 by a local businessman who was inspired by YMEs’ vision. The limo company operates as a normal limousine company, but profits are incorporated into the YME Foundation. You can support YME by utilizing the services of Luxury Limos of Tulsa, or by partnering with us through your business.
Once the teachers arrived at the stadium, a private elevator awaited their ascent to a luxury sky-box complete with food and beverages for all, courtesy of the YME Foundation. Excitement was in the air as the Thunder took on the Lakers with Westbrook at the helm and two new players, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, who were suddenly in the Thunder rotation after only arriving in Oklahoma City the night before the game. Victor Oladipo was pulled from the starting lineup due to back spasms. With the on-court leadership of Westbrook, the Thunder took the lead for a final score of 110-93. The night was a huge success! The Thunder took the win for Oklahoma, and thanks to the YME Foundation and contributing partners; these deserving teachers and their families left with a winning attitude themselves. Because of your support, our teachers definitely felt love and appreciation from their community. Thank you for helping to make a difference!
The YME Foundation is honored to be a part of something bigger; thrilled to help create an environment where each student, teacher, family, and community may experience and achieve their full potential through education. No Oklahoma educator will feel neglected on our watch! Join with us today.
You can partner with the YME Foundation by donating and showing support to these educators and the students they serve. Together, we can Ignite Learning and Fuel Purpose!
Your contribution provides much needed support to teachers, and gives students opportunities to discover their passions and lead lives filled with purpose. Choose to donate a business service, a percentage of your business’ profits, a one-time gift, or a monthly pledge. Everything is used to further our mission of helping Oklahoma’s education reach its full potential.
CLICK HERE to donate today or call (844) YME-KIDS, [844-963-5437] to learn more!
7 Teacher Winners
Diana Phillips is an English teacher and Oklahoma Association of Student Council leader at Broken Arrow High School. Ms. Phillips encourages leadership in her students and recognizes their potential. She fosters a love of education and helps develop life skills. She has a huge impact on the lives of her students and who they become. Ms. Phillips is an inspiration to all she comes in contact with. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>
Sarah Pradhan is a Theatre teacher at Union High School. She works countless unpaid hours and inspires her students to develop their own creativity. She is loved by her students and known for her dedication and love of the Thunder. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>
Tobey Bullington is a Special Education teacher at Vandever Elementary School. Ms. Bullington nurtures and equips her students while celebrating who they are. Her unique approach to Special Education has inspired her to build a garden at her school where students often go to find peace when they face a challenge. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>
Lee Kizzar is a Football and Track Coach at Memorial High School. He empowers his students with tools needed for success in school and in life. He often helps his students in his personal time and shows a dedication that has inspired many. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>
Sarah Leatherland is a teacher at Rejoice Christian School. She is hardworking and spends much of her time inspiring others. She is known as a hardworking, dedicated teacher who invests in her students and works with their families to help them achieve their best. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>
Kevin Jennings teaches Math and Bible and coaches basketball at Summit Christian Academy. He is known for pushing his students to achieve their best both in and out of the classroom. He instills a strong work ethic and sacrifices his own time to display the values he instills in others. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>
Becky Even is a Kindergarten teacher at Bixby North Elementary. She is know as an ‘inspiration’ to those around her. She cares deeply for her students and demonstrates a love for her job and her students. Her teaching style sets a solid foundation for her students. CLICK HERE TO WATCH >>