Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Sun, Dec. 08

Kingman teacher wins top award from statewide group

Kelley Oder returned from a Tucson conference last week with her most satisfying accomplishment as a teacher.

She is the recipient of one of 15 county Teacher of the Year awards presented by the Arizona Small and/or Rural Schools Association.

"It's a pretty big honor to be recognized as an exceptional teacher in Mohave County and be qualified to go to the state interview," Oder said Tuesday.

Oder is in her 17th year of teaching.

She spent eight years in Willcox before moving to Kingman.

She taught at Cerbat Elementary School for eight years and switched to Hualapai Elementary School this year.

Dawn McGill, principal at Cerbat, nominated Oder for the Teacher of the Year honor.

"Kelley is an outstanding teacher, who is compassionate and organized," McGill said.

"She knows the standards and what her job is in relation to teaching those standards to the children.

For several years, she taught a multiage class here, so she had a lot of standards to deal with and her children always excelled on tests (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards and Stanford-9)."

Oder learned in August she was one of the winners of an award from the ASRSA.

Patrick Lennan, executive director of the ASRSA, said 36 applications were considered.

"We look at what a teacher has done not only in his or her school, but also in the community," Lennan said.

"We also look closely at the teacher's philosophy and letters of recommendation.

That's pretty revealing."

While there are 15 counties in Arizona, not all had a Teacher of the Year named.

Some counties had more than one honoree, including Mohave.

Darolene Brown of River Valley High School in Bullhead City joined Oder as a county winner.

Both also were among seven finalists for the state Teacher of the Year award from the Arizona Small and/or Rural Schools Association.

The state honor went to Farrell Adams of Show Low High School.

Winners received plaques at the 2003 association conference Sept.

25-27 in Tucson.

Oder's teaching experience at Cerbat Elementary included one year with a grades three and four resource class, one year with a regular third grade class and six years with a multiage 3-4-5 class.

She now teaches a fourth-grade class at Hualapai Elementary.

"I moved (from Cerbat to Hualapai) for a change in environment," Oder said.

"Cerbat went to a 45-15 schedule and I didn't feel the schedule) would be fair to my children in junior high."

The ASRSA is dedicated to improving the quality of education in small and rural schools.

Some of its goals are: to promote communication between small and rural schools; to support legislation and regulations that benefit small and rural schools; to influence education policy makers; to pursue excellence in education in small and rural schools; and to serve as a state advocate for small and rural schools at the state, regional and national levels.

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