OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 3, 2014) — Two Oklahoma elementary school teachers are among 102 teachers nationwide recently honored with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
The teachers, both of whom had been nominated by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, are Annette Huett, who teaches fourth grade at Kelley Elementary in Moore; and Diane Reece, who taught kindergarten at Bokoshe Public School in Leflore County.
Ms. Reece died of leukemia on Dec. 4. She was 61.
Reece’s two daughters, both of whom followed in their mother’s footsteps by becoming schoolteachers, said the recognition is bittersweet.
“Mom had an exceptional passion for the classroom and students,” said Kris Williams, who teaches in the same district where her mother worked for 36 years.
“She strived to bring great learning opportunities to students, whether it was exciting hands-on activities, trips to local theater performances or completing class service projects. Mom was extraordinary in all areas of life and made a lasting impact on many.”
Reece’s other daughter, Kassandra Lovell, teaches science in Spiro.
“She went above and beyond to teach subjects in a creative way that inspired others. She knew that many times, a child's first experience with school took place in her kindergarten class,” Lovell said.
“She wanted students to be excited about learning and realize that learning could be fun. Helping to create lifelong learners and making the world a better place were important to her."
Huett, a 23-year veteran of the classroom, said she was deeply honored by the recognition.
“It reaffirms my instructional style and hopefully inspires hands-on teaching,” she said. “I would like to thank Moore Public Schools for their support, especially my principal and coworkers. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said Reece and Huett were highly deserving of the Presidential Award for Excellence.
“Oklahoma children are blessed to have had the likes of Diane Reece and Annette Huett in the classroom. Diane’s passing is tragic and leaves a hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved her, but the considerable impact of her life — a life devoted to education and to strengthening her community — will shine on in the minds of all the young people who had the privilege of being her pupils.
“Similarly, the influence of Annette Huett on her students is beyond measure. These teachers have instilled so many young children with a love of learning, and that lesson in itself is of immense value.”
Bestowed annually to K-12 science and math teachers across the nation, the honor comes with a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a number of celebrations.
State Education Department officials are currently working with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching at the National Science Foundation to ensure that Ms. Reece will be properly honored.