OKLAHOMA CITY — A Union High School teacher is this year's State Teacher of the Year.
Rebecka Peterson was one of 12 finalists up for the award. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced Peterson as the winner during a ceremony on Thursday morning in Oklahoma City.
“We are deeply pleased with the selection of Union’s Rebecka Peterson as State Teacher of the Year,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “Even among this stellar group of statewide nominees, I can think of no one who so epitomizes the qualities of teaching excellence. In every interaction with students, she shows great care and a generosity of spirit that is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Rebecka is a testament to the power of public-school teaching, and we are extremely proud of her.”
All 12 finalists were named teachers of the year for their districts or their schools and selected after being reviewed by a panel of civic leaders, fellow educators, and lawmakers.
A group of Union school administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler and others, were able to witness Peterson win the honor.
Thursday's announcement is not the only honor Peterson has received within the last year.
In November 2021, Peterson was named a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). It's the highest recognition a K-12 math or science teacher can receive for outstanding teaching in the U.S. Winners for PAEMST are expected to be announced sometime this spring.
Peterson said, “I became a teacher to add value and dignity to students — sometimes for the first time in a long time, sometimes just when they need it most. … I had no idea how much value my students would bring to me. I love teaching because I love who I am when I’m with my kids.”
Starting on July 1, Peterson will assume full-time State Teacher of the Year duties, which include:
- speaking engagements
- serving as Oklahoma’s ambassador for teachers
- encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession
Peterson currently teaches pre-calculus and AP calculus at Union High School. She has a total of 12 years of teaching experience.
“Teaching high school was never part of the plan,” Peterson said. “This job found me, not the other way around. However, aside from my family, this job offered me my life’s greatest gift: It revealed my purpose and exposed a passion I cannot deny. I feel alive when I am with my students. I love who I am when I am with them. This job is my calling.”
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