Oklahoma Baptist University

Bison Alum Named District Teacher of the Year

Randy Utt, a 1984 Oklahoma Baptist University alum, received Putnam City Schools' District "Teacher of the Year" award for 2008-09. Utt has taught for 25 years, the past 10 years with the Putnam City School District. She works with gifted and talented students in 2nd through 5th grades at James L. Dennis Elementary.

"Being named the ‘Putnam City District Teacher of the Year' is such an honor in and of itself because Putnam City School District is so large," Utt said. "It is an amazing honor because there are so many excellent educators in our district who impact student achievement each day."

Utt has received numerous other honors for her teaching capabilities. She earned the Barbara Spriesterbach Award for Educational Excellence from the Oklahoma Association of Library Media Specialists for collaboration with the media specialist in 2002. She was named an Excellent Educator by the Putnam City Schools Foundation in 2006. She earned National Board Certification in 2006, along with $11,000 in grants. Most recently, she earned an Oklahoma A+ Schools "Spark Award" for creativity in education for a unit on the Dust Bowl in 2008.

"Randy Utt completely captivates her students," said Vivi Grigsby, principal at James L. Dennis. "Whey they walk into her classroom, they know they'll be challenged. They take on projects that require hands-on work and critical thinking skills, causing them to joyfully and deeply learn through discovery. When she asks them to do more, they dive in. At all times, her students are well aware that she believes in them and cares about them."

The award process begins with each of the 27 Putnam City schools choosing one teacher to represent their school. Peers nominate and vote for the teachers. The Teacher of the Year for each school completes an application and essay questions regarding philosophy and teaching style. Applications are then submitted to an administrative panel and the Putnam City Foundation. Five finalists are chosen and participate in an interview consisting of Putman City Foundation members and administration. A final District Teacher of the Year is chosen from the interview process.

Utt is the wife of Dr. Dale Utt, OBU associate professor of biology. She earned a master's degree from Arizona State University. More information about Utt's award and work can be found online at http://www.putnamcityschools.org/.

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