Math teacher and Earlsboro educator Latasha McCormick was awarded a plaque and $500 for her classroom after receiving the most votes in The Shawnee News-Star's Amazing Teacher contest sponsored by Patriot Auto Group.

McCormick has been teaching for eight years and has been at Earlsboro High School for the last six.

The educator said initially she was unaware that she had even been nominated, but she's excited to be the winner and plans to use the money to better her classroom.

"(I'm going) to spend it on some items we need, things like chargers for our Chromebooks, protractors, definitely Kleenex and Clorox wipes...," McCormick said. "We have a few things that need replaced. Some desk chairs for the kids...so probably some things like that."

For McCormick, winning is exciting and she feels grateful that parents and people in her hometown and the district where she also attended school voted for her.

"It's nice to know that I have parents in the community who support me and that think I'm doing a good job," McCormick said. "Sometimes it can get a little discouraging thinking you're not doing the best you could, but it's nice to know that people think you're doing amazing."

The educator said she attended East Central University and has a dual certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and now Mathematics.

McCormick explained she loves teaching because she enjoys shaping the minds of young people and having an impact on their lives.

"(I love) just working with the kids and getting to see that 'a ha' moment when the light bulb comes on and they understand whatever concept we're working on and they finally grasp what they're supposed to be doing," McCormick said.

When she attended Earlsboro Public Schools, McCormick said she had a teacher who made a difference in her life and inspired her to become an educator.

"I had a very influential teacher as a child. She just showed me that it's just not all about teaching whatever core concept or subject it is in the classroom," McCormick said. "You can also teach them life lessons just being there for them. Especially within this district...Knowing some of the home life situations and just the community in general, it's nice to be here for the kids and show them support."

McCormick said because she grew up in Earlsboro, she understands how hard parents have to work to provide for their children, so she works to be that extra support her students may need.

As time goes on, McCormick said she looks forward to bettering her classroom and will strive to be there for all her students.

"(I hope) just to be able to make positive impacts in the majority of my kids' lives and be one of those teachers they come back to and say 'you know you really made a difference when I was going to school,'" McCormick said.

Four finalists named:

Four other area teachers who were finalists in the Amazing Teacher contest sponsored by the News-Star and Patriot Auto Group have been awarded $250 each for classroom projects.

Courtney Bullen of Jefferson Elementary, Lori Farris of Grove School, Becki Powell of Meeker High School and Amber Rudek of North Rock Creek Elementary were named Amazing Teacher finalists following a nomination process and online voting period.