Conner, Gage, Pettit nominated by peers for Marlow’s Teacher of the Year title; announcement to be made Friday

by Toni Hopper

This story will be updated for next week's edition with the nominee who will be named MPS Teacher of the Year. Unfortunately, there was not enough room to get everything in this week. If you were expecting a particular story, it should be in next week!

Each year, Marlow Public Schools selects a nominee from each campus (elementary, middle school, and high school) for the Teacher of the Year award. This year, the nominees were chosen and notified earlier than usual so they could submit their information to the state level for consideration.

Nominees are Christy Pettit for Marlow Middle School, Gloria Conner for Marlow High School, and Heather Gage for Marlow Elementary School.

Friday is the final day of the 2023-24 school year, and the trio will be recognized and one will be named Teacher of the Year at the annual year-end faculty and support personnel event.

Heather Gage and her husband, Jeremy, are both active educators. They have two sons, Bo and Barron. Heather is a graduate of Marlow High School and grew up in an education-based family with her dad, Lynn, teaching many of the sciences and coaching baseball at MHS.

Her mom, Judy Harmeyer, was the high school registrar for years, so education has always been the center of Heather’s world. Her childhood dreams and a lifelong love of teaching is the result of being inspired by the incredible teachers who brought learning to life with their passion and creativity, she told the district.

As a child, she recalls asking Santa for supplies so she could play school at home. She even specifically asked Santa for “Teacher Editions” with the spiral bound edges, and somehow, Santa delivered.

She was so adamant about recreating a classroom at home, she proudly drew the American Flag on her wall so her students could recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, if you knew Heather’s mom, Judy, you understand when I say she was a little less than happy about that,” Brenda Parker-Tillian shared.

Through the years, many role models have inspired Heather, as a child and adult. Her mom’s nightly bedtime readings, pre-school teacher Mrs. Glenda Ousley, who also has been by her side over the last few years at school, and there’s Mrs. Holland, who taught her about astronauts and outer space. Heather said she’s been impacted by numerous Marlow educators, mentioning Patti Fleetwood, Pam Ferguson, Sharon Bullard, Susan Petersen, Ron Newby, and her dad, Lynn Harmeyer.

The biggest change she’s witnessed in her career: The imposing increased rigor in Early Childhood Standards and academic demands on five-year-olds. Heather said play is an

integral part of early childhood learning which provides a platform for creativity, problem-solving, socialization, and emotional development. Heather fears policymakers will

continue to push even more rigor in the future leading to practices that do not align with children’s natural developmental stages.

Christy Pettit has been a teacher for 11 years, with the last three with the Marlow School District. Her twin sister, their father, several cousins, and even her great-grandmother were all educators. She and her husband Robert, have four children, Cole, Zach, Jake and Ella.

Information from MPS Assistant Superintendent Brenda Parker-Tillian describes Christy as one who has always enjoyed working with children. Before she began teaching, she enjoyed counseling at church camp, teaching at Bible School, and helping with youth group activities.

Teaching was a way to continue doing that very thing. The most meaningful thing for Christy is having the opportunity to impact many lives each year and the relationships built along the way. She believes teaching is teamwork and said she has learned so much from many of her colleagues daily. She said the faculty/staff at the MS are always so helpful and supportive and she is humbled that they chose her as their teacher of the year.

Education Changes: Seeing the incorporation of technology in the classroom. While there are positives and negatives with technology. Through technology, students are allowed to work at their independent level with immediate feedback and opportunities. Technology has made it possible for teachers to collaborate and share ideas with other teachers across the country and around the world, so numerous opportunities are at our fingertips, she said.

Gloria Conner and her husband Patrick, have four children. Gloria and her husband Patrick have four children, Dante, Gynna, RJ, and Reece. She has been in education for 25 years with six of those in Marlow. Gloria currently teaches foreign languages at the HS – those being Spanish and American Sign Language.

Gloria says she truly loves being a teacher. She feels each year is like her first year.

She has always loved teaching others and appreciates the opportunity to impact student’s lives daily. Gloria models kindness, compassion, and acceptance and encourages her students to do the same. She instills in her students a love for learning and works to create challenging opportunities for them daily. She was inspired by her younger sister, Sarita, to become a teacher, also a teacher.

Gloria knew she wanted to teach, too, but believed she wasn’t smart enough for college. Sarita told Gloria that college has nothing to do with being smart and that it’s about chasing and working toward your goals. Her sister’s support gave Gloria the courage and confidence to chase her goals.

Witnessing Changes in Education: Technology. When Gloria was a teacher’s aide in Texas in the late 1980s (last century), one of her tasks was to average student’s grades weekly. To do that, she had to add all the weekly grade entries, divide by the number of grades, and reach the average. This was done manually on a calculator. It was time-consuming for students who deserved to know what their averages for the class were. When she began teaching she wrote on green chalkboards with white chalk. No computers were in the classroom and students did all work by paper/pencil. Today the classroom looks nothing like the classroom of 25 years ago.

Article sources: The teachers’ completed questionairres for the district, and that information was shared by Assistant Superintendent Brenda Parker-Tillian. We’ve condensed the information for this article.

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