Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Thank you so much to everyone who shared their stories of a deserving teacher. After reading some wonderful submissions, we narrowed it down to 5 finalists. Now it is time for YOU to choose the teacher who wins $500 from Carter & Higgins Orthodontics!

Read more about each teacher below, then submit your vote on our Facebook page. Voting is open until midnight on Friday, May 5.

Heather Pionke- Little Light House

Nominated by: Lauren Gebhard

“I could SO easily nominate all 8 of the teachers at Little Light House! They are INCREDIBLE, selfless, creative, loving, sensitive, understanding, accepting and make adaptations for each child & family that they serve. I am choosing to highlight and to nominate Heather Pionke, the teacher in Yellow Class for this award in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week! Not only does she teach my son but she teaches 11 of his friends and some of the coolest kids you’ll ever met. All of these children come to school, many for the first time, with their own special characteristics and challenges and she so beautifully adapts and teaches specifically to each child and their unique learning needs. I have never seen a teacher teach with so much love and compassion. Her dedication, the extra hours she puts in, the thought, time and energy she expends cannot be matched. I wish I could attach photos to this nomination because after seeing those, you wouldn’t even need my words to express why she deserves this award. You would see it in her eyes and in the kids expressions! She has dedicated 11+ years of her life to the mission of Little Light House, which is to “glorify God by improving the lives of children with special needs, their families and their community”. She has done this with grace, and on top of being given two beautiful children of her own, both with special needs…one who now lives in heaven with Jesus and the other who is flourishing and thriving as a beautiful teenaged girl, thanks to God, her teachers and also her very dedicated and loving mother, Heather. Heather eats, breathes and lives helping those around her, especially those with special needs! This is her reality and she lives it beautifully. I would love to see her win this award and know that she could so benefit from the prize associated. I want to THANK YOU for recognizing teachers and celebrating them so well. My family has directly benefited from her teaching and love. My son (at the age of 21 months) knows his letters, colors and is learning how to explore food and decrease his sensory needs in this area, which is truly life changing for our family. But more than any of this, she has taught him to love Jesus, his friends and himself and to see no difference or disability in his friends, but a playmate and someone he can cheer for and learn from! I am forever grateful and indebted to Ms. Heather, the teacher in Yellow Class, and would love to see her recognized and celebrated for the work she does on a daily basis. Thank you, Carter & Higgins Orthodontics!!!! What a blessing you are to our Tulsa Community!”

David Alegria- Eisenhower International School

Nominated by: Dana Furtado and Jessica Cermak

From Dana Furtado: “He believes that children need time to be children. “We don’t need soldiers right now. We need children.” more play, less homework. The amazing thing is, our children are completely in alignment (or even ahead) of the other classes their age. He nurtures the Whole Child. He’s the BEST.”

From Jessica Cermak: “I am nominating Sr David Alegria on behalf of my daughter Penny Lane and her first grade Spanish class. Sr Alegria has been the most amazing 1st grade teacher for my daughter and her classmates. He and his family moved here from Madrid, Spain in August. They spoke no English. They took a huge leap of faith and moved across the world for the opportunity to teach at EIS. After getting settled in, when asked if they needed anything, all he asked for were some American movies so that he and his family could learn English. Penny Lane’s Spanish speaking, comprehension and writing skills have soared this year under Sr’s instruction. He makes the day fun and the learning becomes an adventure. Through spontaneous dance parties and hands on experiments, he has lead his class on a journey that has exceeded all of my expectations. We are so grateful that Sr. picked EIS as his teaching home and don’t want the year to end! It’s an amazing thing for you child to come home every single day and when asked what here favorite part of school was, she replies, ‘My teacher!'”

Tracy Goodlow- Lee Elementary

Nominated by: Molly Sinnett

“Ms. Goodlow is the type of teacher you want your kiddos to grow up and be like. She is calm, patient, and has incredible energy. She uses that energy in ways that make her classroom a place you want to be. When she does read alouds, she uses all different voices, some I didn’t even imagine she would be able to make. It made me want to sit and listen more. She is a real “hands on” type of teacher. She does taste test Tuesday’s and has the kiddos bring in different foods to try and then they do a lesson on what they discovered from that food with their senses. My son had completed some very fun projects in her room and made some incredible art with her for the school art crawl. She is so proud of her students. I believe it makes them want to continue their hardest because they can see and feel how proud it makes her. She has created a safe, fun, confident and hard working learning environment for her students.”

Ashton Williams- Kendall Whittier Elementary

Nominated by: Kerry Fox

“Ashton is the teacher in the classroom for students with autism spectrum disorder type symptoms. She is wonderful with her amazing class. Her ability to maintain a schedule and address each child’s individual needs creates an environment where her students can learn not only academics, but how to be a part of a community. Aside from working well with her students, she is a great coworker (I am an SLP at KW) and is knowledgeable about the area in which she teaches. She goes above and beyond to answer any questions I have as we collaborate to work with students.”

Peggy Padalino- School of Saint Mary

Nominated by: Maria Anthamatten

“For over 40 years, Peggy has dedicated her life to her students. She has taught for the Diocese of Tulsa her entire career. For many years now, she has been the Media Center Specialist, teaching computers and being the librarian. She’s had the privilege of teaching every class from K-8 and students are always excited to see her. Peggy was one of my favorite teachers, but mainly because she’s also my mother. Her computer class was always so fun. The original Oregon Trail should say it all! I was a student of hers in the late 80s and 90s and still to this day, my friends from elementary school tell me that my mom was always their favorite. She’s taken on any role the school has asked of her. From stepping up to get her Masters in Library Science, while working full-time and raising three children, to being on the school board, running the network for the entire school, and most recently adding math back into her schedule. Unfortunately, we all know the current situation with education in our state. Thank you for the opportunity to give my mom a shout out, even if she doesn’t ever see this. It’s a tough grind to do this job for over 40 years, but her true passion for teaching shows in her dedication and I’m darn proud of her for that.”

The polls are open! Click here to vote!

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