By BECKY OLLAR
TOP OF CLASS: 2008-2009 Tulsa Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Brian Grimm, is seen here with his students. Grimm is standing to the rear.
BECKY OLLAR for GTR Newspapers
Five years ago, Brian Grimm turned in his keys and walked out of Will Rogers High School. After previously teaching Advanced Placement English courses in a mainly affluent school in Texas, Grimm was frustrated and felt that he was not reaching his students in his first year at Rogers. As fate would have it, though, he soon realized that his house key was on that key ring that he laid on the school secretary’s desk. Today, he is not only reaching his students, but he cannot imagine teaching anywhere else.
Grimm, who was recently named the Tulsa Public Schools Teacher of the Year, says students are his first priority. “I strive to make them the center of my classroom,” he notes. “I have discovered that students almost always rise to the occasion if you support them adequately and listen to their needs with an open mind. If you ask for leadership in a classroom, you will get it. Nothing motivates a young person better than the opportunity to lead.”
During the 2009-2010 school year, Grimm will serve as a Tulsa Ambassador for Teaching, along with the other Teacher of the Year finalists. In addition to teaching full-time at Rogers, he will travel the district and state providing professional development for other teachers. “It is a thrill to see teachers grab hold of ideas that will energize their classrooms and help them reclaim Oklahoma’s next generation of leaders.”
Grimm hopes to help prepare new teachers for the rigors of working at urban schools as well. He, along with other teachers at Rogers, is part of a delegation that works with local universities to create a collaborative laboratory model to provide authentic teaching experiences for would-be teachers. The hope is to provide a unique advantage for new teachers from the first day the step into their own classrooms.