Southeastern News

Southeastern graduate Jon Hazell named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

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DURANT, Okla. – Jon Hazell, a science teacher at Durant High School, was named Oklahoma’s 2017 Teacher of the Year at a ceremony Tuesday at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

A graduate of Durant High School, Hazell has taught anatomy, biology and environmental science for 33 years in the Durant Independent School District. In addition to teaching, he is the pastor at Community Christian Church in Durant.

He holds a bachelor ‘s (’82) and master’s degree (’88) from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
In a release from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Hazell said, “my purpose as a teacher is not so much to motivate my students as it is to create an environment where they motivate themselves.’’

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who made the announcement at the Centennial Building at the fairgrounds, said Hazell’s commitment to education is evident in the contributions he has made to his community.

“Jon has a true servant’s heart, giving back to his neighbors and teaching his students to do the same,” Hofmeister said. “From sponsoring food, clothing and toy drives to raising money for a student stricken with leukemia, Jon is a gifted, inspiring speaker who will be a tremendous ambassador for the profession. In Durant, he is near the border of Texas, where a teacher could earn more, but his commitment is to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma.”

Hazell said he was inspired to teach by his father, Don Hazell, who taught biological sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for 32 years.
“I grew up with constant reminders and affirmation of the respect afforded to the teaching profession. That created a spark in me,” the new Oklahoma Teacher of the Year said. “It showed the influence a teacher could have not only on students, but also on all the people those students influenced.”

“This is a great honor for Durant and the entire community,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “Mr. Hazell is representative of the quality of educators working throughout southeastern Oklahoma. We are proud that he is a graduate of our University and has so many ties to our institution.’’

Hazell helps inmates learn to read and complete their GEDs as part of his five-county prison ministry. Sponsor of the Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school, he is also the ropes course lead facilitator at Crosspoint Camp on Lake Texoma. The course is designed to enhance student cooperation and teamwork.

Hazell will remain in his classroom for the rest of the school year. Starting July 1, 2017, he will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession. Sheehan will continue to tour the state until July in addition to his classroom duties. Hazell will accompany Sheehan to select speaking engagements.

A panel of 28 educators, comprised of members of the business community, legislators and nonprofit partners, selected the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year after extensive interviews with the 12 finalists, themselves district Teachers of Year from across the state.