Edmond – Debra Wood has been selected to receive the University of Central Oklahoma Inspiring Educator Award. This award recognizes innovative UCO alumni who as professional educators have inspired students, colleagues, schools, and communities.
A graduate of Luther High School, Debra is a first through fifth grade gifted and talented teacher at Orvis Risner Elementary in Edmond. Debra has been an Oklahoma educator for eighteen years. She was named the Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year in 2017 and the Oklahoma Elementary Science Teacher of the Year in 2019. Her students compete in the Devon Thunder Explorers STEM challenges each month. Debra served many years on the Oklahoma Education Association Affiliate Relations Committee, helping to increase membership and recognize outstanding local chapters. For the past several years, Debra has served on the Superintendents and Teachers Advisory Committee for the Edmond Public Schools, helping to bridge the communication between faculty and administration. Debra also works with the Oklahoma Soybean Board to present teacher workshops across the state of Oklahoma, sharing her knowledge of teaching science and agriculture in elementary classrooms. Additionally, Debra is a Rubik’s Cube Ambassador, allowing her to provide professional development opportunities to teachers by showing the algorithm, history, math, and art components of the cube. Students leave Debra’s classes having experienced learning that is fun, hands-on, and full of excitement and encouragement.
Her principal Kyle Harrison said, “There are no words to describe the dedication Deb Wood has, not only to her students but continuing to grow as an educator herself. She is constantly applying for, and receiving, grants to enhance the learning taking place in her classroom in creative and innovative ways. Deb gives tirelessly of herself and always has a smile on her face. Not only does Deb work to create engaging learning experiences for her students, but she also serves as our Social Committee chair at our school, coming up with fun ideas for our staff to keep morale high. Her work ethic is second to none, and I am so proud to work alongside her each and every day.”
When asked about Debra, one of her colleagues said, “Ms. Wood brings her students on such engaging adventures every time they step in her classroom. None of this worksheet and video nonsense, but real-life engaging projects that teach real-world concepts, through science and agriculture in the classroom activities, humanitarian service acts by making needed items and projects for the community and fun, mind-engaging, puzzles and escape room boxes that have the kids using higher-ordered thinking skills that would put the, ‘Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader’ show to shame!
The amount of energy, dedication, and personal finance that Ms. Wood puts towards her activities to ensure her students enjoy their learning is something that truly represents the heart of an educator!” Another colleague noted, “My friend Deb Wood is among the finest educators I have ever met. She consistently infuses students with a sense of ownership and a feeling that there is a powerfully collaborative learning experience about to take place between them and the teacher. To enter her classroom is to become part of a whole world of wonder that is thought-provoking and inventive. Deb is also tireless in her efforts to remain at the cutting-edge in her field and daily devotes herself to students and colleagues with a powerful love for the work here. It is little wonder that she would receive an award for doing what she does so well – inspiring us all.”
Debra’s students commented, “I’m proud of her. She is really kind when one of us is having trouble. She stops teaching and helps us out. Right now we are making blankets for veterans. She thought about them to do that. She has such a kind heart.” Other students echoed this sentiment saying, “she is very understanding and kind,” “Ms. Wood is very creative, smart, and comes up with good ideas,” and “Ms. Wood is a kind, creative, hard-working, awesome, great, and fun.”
Debra will be recognized at Honoring a Noble Profession at UCO on December 15, with a keynote address from the 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey. This annual event celebrates teachers and the tremendous impact that they have on our community.