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Jenks Gazette


Jenks Names District Teacher of the Year

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

STUDENT INTEREST: Amy Greenhaw stands with some of her students at Jenks High School. Greenhaw, who has been with the district for 16 years, was named Jenks’ District Teacher of the Year in January.


EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers


Jenks Public Schools’ District Teacher of the Year Amy Greenhaw has seen firsthand the truth that one teacher can make a difference.

Greenhaw, a speech pathologist, teaches Special Education English at Jenks High School. She and her husband have two daughters who are both Jenks graduates.

Because her students are ones in need of specialized learning environments and tailored instruction, Greenhaw has an especially unique opportunity to connect with her students.

Greenhaw credits her smaller class sizes as one reason for her ability to build strong relationships with her students. Her class sizes average about 13 students; whereas, the average class size hovers closer to 30.

However, for Greenhaw’s students, it’s, arguably, less about the class sizes and more about Greenhaw’s genuine concern for and interest in their lives and challenges, a fact that many of her students have been known to share with incoming students, she notes.

“I try to make connections with my kids beyond an academic relationship,” she says. “I try to find what motivates them and their areas of interest and use that in their instruction.”

Greenhaw makes a point to celebrate each student’s birthday in the classroom—“I’ve had students say, ‘I’ve never had a birthday celebration before.’”

An Enid native, Greenhaw has spent 16 years with Jenks Public Schools. Eleven of those years she worked as the district speech pathologist; however, for the past five years, she has taught in her own classroom at Jenks High School.

She holds her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, respectively.

Her choice to pursue speech pathology came about due to her dual interest in teaching and nursing, she says.

Therefore, for the first 10 years of her professional career, she used her skills in the medical field before transitioning into the public school system in 2000.

While working in the medical field, Greenhaw worked mostly with patients dealing with catastrophic injuries; in the educational field, her focus has been on working with students with developmental disabilities and those struggling with learning in a traditional classroom setting.

Greenhaw credits her 11 years as the school district speech pathologist as what set her on the path to teaching full time.

“Those years provided me opportunity to work with all kinds of teachers and students throughout the district,” says Greenhaw, “which caused me to want to have my own classroom so that I could be with students for longer periods of time.”

Greenhaw says that she is continuously searching for ways to ignite a passion within her students.

“I strive to help my students focus on being a better person, learner and citizen,” she says. “I want them to know I believe in them.

“Teaching students who have not been successful in the past and seeing them achieve success in the present, is the ultimate inspiration for me.”

Greenhaw’s favorite part of her day is at the beginning of each class where she spends almost 10 minutes talking in a group setting with her students, which serves a number of purposes. “It helps students to calm down and get adjusted so that they are ready to learn,” she says. “It also helps students to feel comfortable speaking in front of their peers, and it allows me opportunity to ask them questions about their lives outside of the classroom, which helps me to learn about things they may be dealing with.”

Greenhaw’s efforts in showing personal interest has borne many good results, she says, including the example of one of her students who graduated from Jenks and is now attending Tulsa Community College.

She is from a big family and did not receive a lot of educational support growing up, says Greenhaw. She worked 30 hours a week at a fast food restaurant throughout high school. Additionally, English is not her first language.

How did she accomplish that?

“She is determined,” says Greenlaw.

Recently, Greenhaw received a text from that student thanking her for “believing in me.”

“Teachers can really make a difference; we can help kids make positive choices,” she says.

Next for Greenhaw will be to create a portfolio to compete in the statewide competition. The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year will be announced in September.

Updated 02-20-2018

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