Bill Wallace teacher honored as one of twenty

Laura K. Martin is a PreK teacher at Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center. She was recently selected as one of twenty outstanding teachers across Oklahoma who has only been teaching for two or less years.
 Across the state, principals, veteran teachers, and district leaders submitted their top novice teachers for consideration. Each nomination was reviewed by a committee of education professionals and chosen through a multi-stage selection process. The 20 honorees were selected for outstanding classroom culture, fostering academic success, and their commitment to Oklahoma students and communities.
 Martin says that pursuing a job in education felt like an obvious choice for her. “I became a teacher because I felt a calling to have some sort of profound impact in my community and in my world. I love children, and I find their curiosity and points of view delightful.”
 Martin says she is motivated by her students’ curiosity and dedication to learning. The thing that she loves most about teaching is when a student experiences an “aha” moment.  
 “This moment has two pieces,” Martin shared, “when that new idea finally clicks into place and when the student realizes they finally grasped a concept that may not have made sense to them before.”
 Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center principal Kathy Wenzel described the culture of Martin’s classroom as “better than most novice teachers.” Wenzel describes Martin as an intuitive and proactive educator who is passionate about teaching and building relationships to connect everyone together.
 “Mrs. Martin is so proactive in research and planning to meet her students’ needs, she has initiated and expedited her own professional development opportunities,” Wenzel told TLI, “ Our school staff is learning about Positive Intervention and Support Plan (PBIS). Mrs. Martin is so interested she took initiative to register for a conference out of the state and attended the conference all on her own expense.”
 Martin has also been a huge proponent of Conscious Discipline, a trauma-informed social and emotional educational approach that was founded on the basis of safety, connection, and problem-solving. Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center was fortunate enough to be granted an Oklahoma School Climate Transformation Grant in the 2019-2020 school year. It has been a building-wide initiative to implement this methodology.
 Laura Martin is an alternatively certified teacher and a graduate of Oklahoma State University. The 20 Under 2 Novice Teaching Awards were created to recognize the talent and dedication of Oklahoma’s newest teachers amidst a challenging landscape. In recent years, Oklahoma educators have grappled with limited resources, large class sizes, and low pay, and this year teachers faced a global pandemic along with new forms of distance learning. For educators just beginning their profession, these challenges are especially difficult.  
 After five years, only about half of new teachers remain in the classroom and schools struggle to recruit high-quality teacher candidates. The 20 Under awards acknowledges these difficulties, and honors new teachers’ whose emerging strengths and talents are needed now more than ever.
 20 Under 2 honorees receive a $250 gift card to Magic City Books to build their classroom library. Honorees will also receive a gift box that includes a custom 20 Under 2 plaque, gift card to Magic City Books, a custom notebook and other goodies.