OKCPS Names Leslie Davis Teacher of the Year

August 20, 2020

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) have named Leslie Davis the district’s teacher of the year. The announcement came during a virtual Stars of Education event.

Davis, who teaches first grade at Cleveland Elementary, has also taught in South Korea.

“Every child in the world deserves a chance to be anything they desire to be,” she said. “Students just need a safe environment where they can be themselves and learn without judgment.”

Davis is known for her flexibility as a teacher, and she allows students to work in ways which help them focus.

“Educators should never stop learning and implementing new strategies,” she said. “We must be open to updated ideas, technology and change. We do not work with machines. We work with young minds that are constantly growing and learning new things. If we are not constantly flexible with our teaching approach, how can we expect these learners to be successful?”

As the Teacher of the Year, Davis received a cash award from The Foundation, a watch from BC Clark and the use of a brand new car for one year from Fowler Automotive. She will represent the district in the Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year competition.

“The most important value for any teacher is a dedication to helping students become their best selves, and Leslie Davis epitomizes that belief,” said Mary Mélon, president and CEO of The Foundation. “It’s clear how much she loves her students and how much they love her. She is exactly the type of educator we look for when choosing a Teacher of the Year. We are so proud to honor her and all the finalists.”

Amanda Girdler, a 5th grade math and science teacher at Taft Middle School, was named first runner-up. The second runner-up was Laura Hughes, who teaches pre-K at Heronville Elementary.

The winners were selected from a group of exceptional finalists, including:

  • Michelle Cheney, Kaiser Elementary, 3rd grade
  • Katy Hamilton, Johnson Elementary, pre-K
  • Danielle Hubble, Wheeler Middle School, 6th-8th grade English language arts and special education
  • Lee Peacock Jones, Van Buren Elementary, media specialist
  • Angela Peake, Coolidge Elementary, special education
  • Jennifer Sinclair, Nichols Hills Elementary, kindergarten

Other important awards were also given out during the event.

Melinda Elms of Hawthorne Elementary and Gregory Frederick of U.S. Grant High School received the Sam and Charolet Shirley Outstanding Principal awards. Each principal received a cash award plus $1,000 for their school to use toward Partners in Action projects.

The Foundation awarded three Partners in Action finalists as Community Partners of the Year:

  • Sonic., large business
  • Craig and Streight Orthodontics., small/medium business
  • Freedom City, faith-based/nonprofit

The Valuable Volunteer and Support Staff of the Year winners were also recognized at the event and received cash awards. Ed and Allie Frankfurt were named the most Valuable Volunteers for more than 11 years of dedication to Eugene Field Elementary, and Danita Gaut-Cartwright was honored for her work as a paraprofessional at Arthur Elementary.

OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel also praised the award winners.

"The Stars of Education were shining brightly tonight as we celebrated the best of #TeamOKCPS! We are so proud of Leslie, Melinda, Greg and all of our incredible Teacher of the Year nominees and are so grateful they have chosen to invest their hearts into Oklahoma City students,” he said. “But we know we can't do it alone, and tonight was also a chance for us to also thank some of our amazing community partners who continue to provide critical support for our students, families and staff. This is sure to be a year like no other, but with talented educators at the helm and committed partners at our side, I am confident that OKCPS will continue to rise!"