Shawnee Public Schools District has, once again, put the spotlight on some of its best and brightest, sharing its latest round of teacher of the year finalists.

Shawnee Public Schools District has, once again, put the spotlight on some of its best and brightest, sharing its latest round of teacher of the year finalists.

There are 12 teachers within the district who have gained the distinction.

Superintendent Dr. April Grace said the winner will be announced Feb. 28 at the 43rd annual Teacher of the Year banquet that will be held at Oklahoma Baptist University.

“We feel blessed to have them working with the students of SPS,” Grace said.

Each and every one of these candidates is an outstanding educator in their area of expertise, she said.

“I am thankful we have this opportunity to acknowledge their contributions to our district,” she said.

SPS District Teacher of the Year Finalists are:

• Cherity Pennington is the media specialist for Shawnee Middle School and Shawnee High School. She is in her 18th year of teaching in Oklahoma. Before her role as a library media specialist, she taught high school English for 12 years. Pennington earned a B.A. in English education from East Central University in 1996 and earned a Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2011.

Favorite Quote: "We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet." — Margaret Mead

• Debbie Scott teaches first grade at Will Rogers Elementary School. She has been teaching for 19 years. All of her teaching experience has been at Will Rogers. Scott taught first grade for 18 of those 19 years. She taught one year in fourth grade and came right back to her first graders the next year. She earned a B.A. in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education from Oklahoma State University.

Favorite Quote: "To the world you may be just a teacher, but to your students you are a hero."

• Brandi Abbott teaches seventh- and eighth-grade Special Education at Shawnee Middle School. She has been teaching for 14 years. She earned an Associate of Art Degree from Seminole State College and earned a B.S. in Special Education from University of Central Oklahoma.

Favorite Quote: "All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them." — Magic Johnson

• Caria Kennedy teaches third grade at Jefferson Elementary School. This is her 19th year of teaching. She graduated from East Central University and is National Board Certified.

Favorite Quote: "Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." — Robert Louis Stevenson.

• Terri Mastin teaches fourth grade at Horace Mann Elementary. She has been teaching for 22 years. Mastin is a graduate of Shawnee Public Schools and earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from Oklahoma State University.

Favorite Quote: "They will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you make them feel." — Maya Angelou.

“It is one of my goals to make each of my students feel that they are important and loved.” Mastin said.

• Cassie Flora teaches kindergarten at the Shawnee Early Childhood Center. This is her third year in kindergarten. She has taught a total of six and a half years. Flora went to Seminole State College where she earned an associate's degree then went on to East Central and earned a bachelor's degree.

Favorite Quote: "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." — Aristotle

• Brandi Bond teaches Speech and Drama in grades six through eight at Shawnee Middle School. This is her fifth year of teaching. Bond has a B.S. in English Education and a B.A. in Theater Performance.

Favorite Quote: “The best prayer a teacher can pray is that her most challenging students are never absent. She needs them as much as they need her. Personal growth comes from problem solving, for teacher and student.”

• Melisa Rice is the math department chairperson and a math teacher for Shawnee High School. She has been teaching 35 years — with 12 of those years in Shawnee Public Schools. Rice graduated from UCO — after three years at OSU — with a math degree and a minor in education. She also has a master's degree in Counseling from East Central University.

Teaching Philosophy: “I believe you can't teach rigor without having respect and a relationship with your students. Know your kids.”

• Tracy Brzozowski teaches freshman English and Pre-AP freshman English at Shawnee High School. This is her 30th year of teaching. She earned a bachelor's degree in English Education in 1987 from Central State University and her master's degree in 1992 in Modern American Literature.

Favorite Quote: Brzozowski said, “I have always loved the characters Atticus Finch and Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, and love Atticus' advice to Scout: 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.' ”

• Aimee King teaches fifth-grade English Language Arts and Social Studies at Sequoyah Elementary School. This is her sixth year of teaching in the Shawnee Public School System and her 11th year to be a teacher. King has a degree from Cameron University in Public Relations and Organizational Communications. She obtained her certification to teach in 2006.

Favorite Quote: “It is the responsibility of every adult to make sure that children hear what we have learned from the lessons of life and to hear over and over that we love them and that they are not alone.” — Marian W. Edelman

• Sara Branson teaches High School Algebra II and Math Analysis/Trigonometry at Shawnee High School. She is also the Middle School Cross Country Coach. This is Branson’s fifth year teaching. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Secondary Mathematics.

Favorite Quote: “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.” — Rene Descartes

• Misty Rendleman teaches a variety of classes at Jim Thorpe Academy, including computer, digital art and multi-media, credit recovery, and, her favorite, health and fitness. Rendleman has taught for five years, but has been in the education industry since the early '90s.

Favorite Quote: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” — F. Douglas

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.