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Southeastern hosts Second Annual McCurtain County Prospective Teacher Academy

February 28, 2024

IDABEL, Okla. – The Southeastern Oklahoma State University department of teacher education hosted the Second Annual Prospective Teacher Academy at its McCurtain County campus on Wednesday. Over 50 prospective teaching students attended the event, marking noted growth from the inaugural event.

Representatives from Battiest, Broken Bow, Denison, DeQueen (Ark.), Eagletown, Forest Grove, Haworth, Holly Creek, Idabel, Lukfata, Rattan, Smithville, Valliant, and Wright City school districts as well as unaffiliated prospective teacher students attended the 2024 event, which featured keynote speaker Traci Manuel, the 2023 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, who teaches English language arts at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa.

The morning session consisted of breakout rooms, where students learned about “Steps to Becoming a Certified Teacher” from Dr. Mila Zhu, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Southeastern, “Education Programs: Navigating the Degree Plans” from Dr. Barbara McClanahan, professor of elementary education at the McCurtain County campus of Southeastern, “Looking Beyond Certification: What School Districts are Looking to Hire” from Deena Smith, principal at Forest Grove schools, “Certification Reciprocity: Teaching in Arkansas” from Brandon Lindly, principal at DeQueen (Ark.) schools and Beau McCastlain, 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year from DeQueen who teaches television production, and “Concurrent Enrollment: Getting a Jump Start” from Claudia Bacon-Tonihka, admissions and financial aid specialist at Southeastern.

After a lunch provided by Farmer’s Bank and Trust of Broken Bow, students then attended a panel discussion of teachers featuring Manuel; McCastlain; Leslie Dicketts, a fourth grade teacher at Hawood Elementary; Dianna Hamilton, an English teacher at Idabel High School; Stephen Smallwood, a speech teacher at Rattan Public Schools who was the 1996 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year; and Clint Glasson, principal at Lukfata Elementary School.

“We’re so pleased this event was able to grow so much in its second year and show students in our area the pathways Southeastern and the McCurtain County campus offer towards becoming a teacher,” said Kendra Gross, McCurtain County Campus Director. “Teaching is a vital profession in largely rural areas such as far southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas. Educating our future workforce is so important to building prosperity in our area, and Southeastern’s legacy of teaching our teachers will grow because of events like this and the future teachers we can educate and train.”

More information on Southeastern’s McCurtain County campus is available at www.SE.edu/mccurtain.