Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City

Former OSU-OKC Project SOAR Student Named Teacher of the Year

Former OSU-Oklahoma City Project SOAR student, Heather Meldrum, was recently named Oklahoma City Public Schools Teacher of the Year at the annual Stars of Education event, hosted by The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools

 

Meldrum discovered her passion of teaching at OSU-OKC in 2001. Being a first-generation college student, she sought the extra help she needed through the university’s Project SOAR program. Project SOAR, a product of the federal TRiO programs initiated by Congress, is a resource for low-income and first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities.

 

“From the beginning she was very dedicated and passionate about getting her teaching degree,” says Danny Hurst, OSU-OKC Project SOAR Director. “I’m not surprised that 12 years later she won the Teacher of the Year award because she had the passion and drive to get it.”

 

Every year, Oklahoma City Public Schools have the opportunity to nominate a teacher they feel is deserving of the award. For the first time, charter schools were invited to participate in the nomination process. Meldrum, who teaches fifth grade at Stanley F. Hupfeld Academy at Western Village, was not only the winner, but also the first from a charter school.

 

When Meldrum’s name was announced as the winner, she says she was in shock. “I know they must have said my name because everyone in the audience was screaming it,” she says.

 

Meldrum’s story is as unique as those she teaches; however, for much of her life she had no interest in the teaching field. In fact, she avoided it.

 

“I was eight years into the medical field and [had spent] 11 years at MidFirst Bank; I was really fine with where I was,” she says. Meldrum’s boss at MidFirst Bank asked her to teach a class that educated students about workforce readiness. After three years of turning him down, she agreed to teach the class.

 

When the class came to an end, Meldrum asked if there were any questions from the students. She says it was in that moment that she knew she wanted to become a teacher.

 

For her, the decision to attend OSU-OKC was easy. “Choosing [OSU-OKC] was absolutely just comfort and security and size…What I look back on now, and what I share with other people, is the level of expertise that you get when you’re here,” she says.

 

Meldrum’s advice for future students is to not dwell on the past. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help… Trust your advisors 100 percent,” she says.

 

Meldrum was selected as the Oklahoma City Public Schools Teacher of the Year after a long, time-consuming selection process. Although time-consuming, she considers the process to be beneficial.

 

“It’s a good process to go through because as a teacher you really don’t look at yourself that much,” Meldrum says. “You have an idea of what you sound like or look like, or what you’re doing, but you don’t always get to see your class in retrospect.”

 

Photo credit: The Foundation of Oklahoma City Public Schools.

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