UHS Math Teacher Rebecka Peterson Named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year


Union High School math teacher Rebecka Peterson has been named Oklahoma’s State Teacher of the Year. Peterson was one of 12 finalists up for the prestigious honor. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced the winner in Oklahoma City in a ceremony at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

“We are deeply pleased with the selection of Union’s Rebecka Peterson as State Teacher of the Year,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “Even among this stellar group of statewide nominees, I can think of no one who so epitomizes the qualities of teaching excellence. In every interaction with students, she shows great care and a generosity of spirit that is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Rebecka is a testament to the power of public-school teaching, and we are extremely proud of her.”  

All finalists were named teachers of the year for their districts or schools and selected after their applications were reviewed by a panel of educators, lawmakers and civic leaders.

A small contingency of Union representatives, including Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler, Associate Superintendent Charlie Bushyhead, Assistant Superintendent Sandi Calvin and Senior Class Principal Tony Tempest were in Oklahoma City to celebrate with Peterson.

Peterson’s honors continue. Last November, she was named a state-level finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest recognition a K-12 math or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the U.S. Winners are expected to be announced later this spring.           

Peterson said, “I became a teacher to add value and dignity to students — sometimes for the first time in a long time, sometimes just when they need it most. …  I had no idea how much value my students would bring to me.  I love teaching because I love who I am when I’m with my kids.”

Beginning July 1, Peterson will assume full-time State Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s ambassador for teachers, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession.

Peterson teaches pre-calculus and AP calculus at Union High School. She was Union District Teacher of the Year for 2021, as well as an AP Reader for calculus. She has 12 years of teaching experience. Peterson holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of South Dakota.

“Teaching high school was never part of the plan,” Peterson said. “This job found me, not the other way around. However, aside from my family, this job offered me my life’s greatest gift: It revealed my purpose and exposed a passion I cannot deny. I feel alive when I am with my students. I love who I am when I am with them. This job is my calling.”  

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