Altus Teachers of the Year for 2013 are, from left, Natlyn Christian, Altus Junior High and District Finalist; Melisa Parsons, Altus Intermediate School and District Finalist; Randall Coffman, Altus High School; Joyce Frederick, Will Rogers Elementary; Tracy King, Washington Elementary; Bobby Wakeman, Rivers Elementary; Tammy Richeson, Sunset Elementary and District Teacher of the Year; and Jammie Hamm, Roosevelt Elementary.
The Altus Board of Education recognized the district’s 2013 Teachers of the Year at their meeting on Monday, January 14.
Honored were Bobby Wakeman, Rivers Elementary Teacher of the Year; Jammie Hamm Roosevelt Elementary Teacher of the Year; Tracy King, Washington Elementary Teacher of the Year; Joyce Frederick, Will Rogers Elementary Teacher of the Year; Randall Coffman. Altus High School Teacher of the Year; Natlyn Christian, Altus Junior High Teacher of the Year and District Finalist; Melisa Parsons, Altus Intermediate School Teacher of the Year and District Finalist; and Tammy Richeson, Sunset Elementary School Teacher of the Year and 2013 District Teacher of the Year.
Teachers of the Year are nominated and voted on by their individual school faculties. The top three candidates are chosen by a district committee, and then the entire Altus teaching faculty votes to determine the District Teacher of the Year.
Tammy Richeson - Altus Public Schools Teacher of the Year
Tammy Richeson, a teacher at Sunset Elementary School, has been named as the 2013 Altus Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Richeson teaches second grade.
Mrs. Richeson has been teaching in Altus for 19 years. She has taught at Will Rogers and Sunset Elementary Schools, and at Altus Intermediate School. She earned her masters degree in Elementary Education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
A past member of the Country Friends Home Extension Club, she has also been involved with Altus Jaycees, the Will Rogers Elementary Vision Committee, the Sunset Elementary Reading Curriculum Committee, the APS District Common CORE Committee, the Sunset Sunshine Committee, the APS District Professional Development Committee, and the APS District Curriculum Alignment Committee.
Mrs. Richeson was named Teacher of the Month two times at Altus Intermediate School, and she has also been honored to receive six Altus Public Schools Foundation Grants.
Mrs. Richeson and her husband, Jay, have three children. Tyler is married to Amy and is a Highway Patrolman. They have one son, Noah, age two. Cameron is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, and Alyssa is a junior at Altus High School.. She is an active member of First Baptist Church of Altus.
Mrs. Richeson’s hobbies are making jewelry, Pinterest, and playing with her grandson.
The following is an excerpt from an essay written by Mrs. Richeson on “What it Means to be a Teacher”:
“Teaching is a rewarding career that I have enjoyed for the past eighteen years. It has been a blessing to be able to serve so many students during my career. I still get excited every year when I start planning my classroom theme. I love teaching ‘outside of the box’ and seeing the excitement in my second graders’ eyes when they grasp that concept for the first time. I love getting to attend their games and cheering them on during those events. One of my most rewarding compliments came in a letter from a former student that I had in class at Altus Middle School. He wrote that he thought of me as his mom at a time when he needed a mom the most. There is no better reason to be a teacher than getting those kinds of compliments. My husband always says that on this side of Heaven teachers will never really know how much impact they have had on their students. I just hope I have made positive impacts that last a lifetime for all of my students.”
Natlyn Christian - Altus Junior High Teacher of the Year and District Finalist
Natlyn Christian teaches seventh and eighth grade Special Education at Altus Junior High, a position she has held for 31 years. She earned her teaching credentials from SWOSU, and she has been active in the National, Oklahoma, and Altus Education Associations, Professional Oklahoma Educators, Altus Junior High Instructional Council, Communications Committee, Calendar Committee, and the Original 180 Vision Leaders.
Mrs. Christian has served as a coach for the Special Olympics and has also been the Altus Special Olympics Coordinator. She is the Altus Junior High School Leo Club Advisor, and she is active in the Altus Lions Club. She is also a member of St. John Baptist Church, where she has served as the director of Children’s Choir, and Adult Choir member, and a Sunday School teacher. In addition, Mrs. Christian has been a Reading Renaissance van driver and a KKVO disc jockey.
She has received numerous teaching awards, including being named Altus Junior High Teacher of the Year four times previously. She has also been an AEA Teacher of the Month, Altus Junior High Student Council Teacher of the Month, Altus Masonic Teacher of Today (four times), and is listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Mrs. Christian has also received an award from the African American Leadership Council, the Lions Club has presented her with the Lions Club International Achievement Award, the President’s Certificate of Appreciation, the Lions Congressional Medal, Altus Lions Club Lion of the Year Award, and the Leo Club Advisor Service Award.
“I’m blessed to have a wonderful work family who knows the importance of teamwork,” said Mrs. Christian. “Because of this collaboration, Altus Junior High is an outstanding school and a great place to work. I’m surrounded by the best, which helps me to render my best.”
Melisa Parsons - Altus Intermediate School Teacher of the Year and District Finalist
Melisa Parsons teaches Sixth Grade Math at Altus Intermediate School. She has 14 years of teaching experience, all in the Altus Public School District. She previously was a teacher’s assistant at Washington, Roosevelt, and Rivers Elementary Schools, and then an elementary teacher at Washington Elementary.
Mrs. Parsons was also the Altus Intermediate School Teacher of the Year in 2008, and she was named a Masonic Teacher of Today.
Mrs. Parsons graduated from Navajo High School in 1989. She went on to earn her associate’s degree at WOSC and her bachelor’s degree at Cameron University.
She and her husband, David, have one son, Jacob, their ‘pride and joy.’ Mrs. Parsons is the daughter of Pam and Doug Stanley of Blair and Fred and Tonya Worbes of Altus.
Mrs. Parsons and her family are members of the Warren Missionary Baptist Church. Her hobbies include watching sports, making crafts, and spending time with her family.
“I often think Forrest Gump’s momma hit the nail on the head,” said Mrs. Parsons. “Life really is like a box of chocolates, and that’s especially true in the classroom. Just like opening a box and wondering what wonderful flavors lie hidden within, each day provides a delicious opportunity to set forth on a voyage of discovery with my students as they unwrap the mysteries of the world surrounding them.”
Randall Coffman - Altus High School Teacher of the Year
Randall Coffman teaches Pre-AP Physical Science and Biology at Altus High School and is the AHS Girls Golf Coach. He has 24 years of teaching experience, having also taught in Mangum, Hobart, and Choctaw/Nicoma Park. He has also served as a Storm Team trainer for the Oklahoma Climate Survey at the University of Oklahoma, as well as a FAST trainer and a research pilot trainer for the University of Hawaii and Stanford University.
Mr. Coffman earned his bachelor’s degree in Natural Science Education from SWOSU and then went on to get his master’s degree in Geoscience from Mississippi State University. He is a member of the National and Oklahoma Science Teachers Associations, Professional and Oklahoma Educators. He is a master Mason and a member of the Mangum Masonic Lodge #61. In addition, he is an elder of the First Christian Church of Altus and enjoys preaching God’s Word when given the opportunity.
Mr. Coffman’s wife, Tara, is the Director of Rehab Services for JCMH, and they have two daughters, Amanda, who attends Altus Junior High, and Aubrey, who goes to Sunset.
Weather and photography, especially lightening photographs, are Mr. Coffman’s passions. He also enjoys lifting weights and learning to play guitar. Recently his family started raising show pigs, but he can’t decide if this is just work or another hobby.
Of teaching, Mr. Coffman said, “I believe we all possess God-Given talents. At the risk of sounding cliché, teaching is a true calling. For me it was the shift from what I thought I wanted, pharmacy, to what I now believe I was gifted to do. The process of finding your talents or gifts often has a way of humbling you.”
Bobby Wakeman - Rivers Elementary Teacher of the Year
Bobby Wakeman has taught for 29 years in the Altus Public School District. He currently teaches Physical Education at L. Mendel Rivers Elementary, a position he has held for nine years. Previously, he has taught PE at Roosevelt, Drivers Education at Altus High School, and Sixth Grade at Roosevelt.
Mr. Wakeman is a member of the Elmer United Methodist Church and is a volunteer fireman for the Elmer Fire Department. He and his wife, Cindy, have two daughters: Molly Wakeman and Meagan Stoltzfus, who is married to Theron and has a beautiful boy, Will.
“When I think about what teaching means to me,” said Mr. Wakeman, “I have trouble even putting it into words. It is the way I have made a living for the last 29 years, but it is so much more than that. It is not just a job. It is part of who I am. I am a 52-year-old man who hula hoops, jumps rope, skips, slides, runs, hops, and plays ridiculous games with five to nine-year-olds, and I am proud of it. I love encouraging my students to live a healthy, active lifestyle because I know a sound mind and a sound body work together to make a well-rounded individual.”
Jammie Hamm - Roosevelt Elementary Teacher of the Year
Jammie Hamm currently teaches fourth grade at Roosevelt Elementary. She has 13 years of teaching experience, having taught at Northside ISD in Vernon, TX, and at Will Rogers and Roosevelt in Altus. She earned her associate’s degree at WOSC and her bachelor’s degree at Cameron University, where she graduated cum laude.
Mrs. Hamm and her husband, Randy, have three children, Kevin, who attends SWOSU; Sydney, age 10; and Stephanie, age three. Mrs. Hamm is a team mom for the Western Waterdawgs Swim Team, and she enjoys taking photographs and spending time at the lake camping and boating with her family.
Of teaching, she said, “I have learned so much about what it means to be a teacher from my students over the years. I only hope, that along the way, I have taught them a fraction of what they have ALL taught me!”
Tracy King - Washington Teacher of the Year
Tracy King is a Kindergarten teacher at Washington Elementary. She has taught there since 2006.
Mrs. King graduated from Sentinel High School in 1989, and then went on to earn her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from SWOSU.
She lives in Olustee with her husband, Gary King, Jr., and her children Chastity, Christian, and Tori. Her oldest son, Colten Sorrels, is in the Navy, stationed in Japan. Mrs. King is the daughter of Bonnie and the late Red Berry of Olustee. Her in laws are Barbara and the late Gary King (Fox) of Altus.
Mrs. King is a proud member of Tamarack Church of Christ in Altus and is active with the youth at Prairie Hill Baptist of Olustee. She has a twin sister, Stacy, who is often mistaken for Mrs. King at Wal-Mart. Mrs. King enjoys serving God, teaching, and spending time with her friends and family.
“It is an honor to be chosen Teacher of the Year in such a wonderful school and community,” she said.
Joyce Frederick - Will Rogers Elementary Teacher of the Year
Joyce Frederick earned a bachelor’s degree from Cameron University. She currently teaches Kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary. This is her sixth year at Will Rogers and her 23rd year teaching. Before teaching in Altus, she taught at Navajo Elementary and Roosevelt Public Schools (now annexed with Snyder). She has also taught first grade, fourth grade, sixth grade, and Title I, but most of her years of teaching have been in kindergarten, which is her favorite grade to teach.
Mrs. Frederick grew up on a farm near Rocky, OK, in a large family of five girls and one boy. She attended school in Rocky through the 10th grade and then graduated from Sentinel High School after Rocky School closed. Her parents instilled in her the ethics of working hard and the importance of education.
Mrs. Frederick is married to Ronnie Frederick, and they are blessed with twin daughters, Stacie of South Burlington, Vermont, and Stephanie and husband Michael of Hyde Park, Vermont, one son Mike of Altus, and two grandchildren, Chesney and Max.
Mrs. Frederick looks forward to summers so she and her husband can enjoy spending time in beautiful Vermont with their daughters and grandchildren. She also takes pleasure in camping, working on the computer, and loves to refinish furniture and sew when she has time.
Of teaching, Mrs. Frederick said, “The hours between eight and three are opportunities with infinite possibilities. I never met a child who wasn’t a teacher.”