Stars of Education 2024

Caption: OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel (left) and OKCPS Foundation President & CEO Mary Mélon-Tully (right) congratulate the 2024 OKCPS District Teacher of the Year Jennifer Reyes-Garcia (middle) during this year’s Stars of Education celebration event.

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 9, 2024) –Earlier today, Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) and the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation announced Jennifer Reyes-Garcia as the 2024 OKCPS District Teacher of the Year at the Foundation’s annual Stars of Education event.

Jennifer Reyes-Garcia is in her fourth year as the lead fourth-grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary, with nine total years of teaching experience. Reyes-Garcia was one of ten teachers accepted to the OKCPS Foundation’s first Aspiring Administrators Pipeline Program cohort and earned her master’s degree in educational administration in December 2023. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation and is bilingual in Spanish and English. 

“I decided to become a teacher around 5th grade because I had a teacher who was there for me when I needed someone to save my life. She gave me an out, something my siblings did not have, she gave me hope, and she gave me a future,” Reyes-Garcia recalled. “I decided I would do the same thing for other students who were in my position.”

“The best part of my day, every day, is working with my students and seeing them go through that productive struggle into finding confidence and excellence in all that they do,” Reyes-Garcia said proudly of her students’ work ethic and resilience. “In OKCPS, we truly serve an incredibly diverse student body. Regardless of that diversity, the expectation to provide our students a world-class education as outlined in our district’s mission and vision still remains.”

As the OKCPS District Teacher of the Year, Reyes-Garcia received a $5,000 cash award from the OKCPS Foundation and the Do Family, a watch from BC Clark and the use of a new car during their year of service from Fowler Automotive.

“We are proud to recognize this outstanding group of OKCPS educators at our Stars of Education Awards program,” said Mary Mélon-Tully, President and CEO of The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation. “For four decades, our Foundation has been creating positive change in OKCPS alongside strong leaders like Jennifer and our other dedicated Teacher of the Year finalists, who provide daily inspiration to their students, their fellow staff members and the OKCPS community.” 

The runner-up was announced as Drew Rhodes from Emerson Mid-High School and the second runner up was Julianne Anthony from Wheeler Middle School. All finalists received a cash award from the OKCPS Foundation and other prizes from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Simple Modern, Raising Cane’s and Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores. 

The other finalists included:

-Julianne Anthony, Math Teacher at Wheeler Middle School

-Sally Berry, Math Strategies and Creative Writing Teacher at Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School

-Jacqualine Bufford, French Teacher at Northwest Classen High School

-Lindsey Clinton, Library Media Specialist at Adelaide Lee Elementary School

-Brandi Kelley, Dance Teacher at Classen School of Advanced Studies Middle School

-Eric Parker, Sheltered Social Studies Teacher at Taft Middle School

-Dominique Poncelet, Science and Study Skills Teacher at Southeast Middle School

-Drew Rhodes, Social Studies Teacher at Emerson South Mid-High School

The OKCPS District Teacher of the Year is selected through a comprehensive evaluation process and determined by a panel of judges made up of OKCPS district leaders. Every school’s Teacher of the Year is invited to apply by submitting a written portfolio that mirrors the Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year application, and a letter of recommendation from their principal. The nine teachers with the top written scores are identified as the nine finalists. Those nine finalists then continue through the selection process by submitting video footage of a classroom lesson and participating in an interview with the same panel of judges. The combined scores of the written application, classroom lesson and interview evaluations determine the winner.

“Each year, the excellent teachers within OKCPS continue to astonish me. It’s clear that our teachers are the best in the state, championing the values that make our community strong,” Dr. Sean McDaniel, Superintendent of OKCPS, remarked. “Today, we celebrate our 2024 Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Reyes-Garcia. Your exceptional dedication and passion for teaching is inspiring for our students and staff. Congratulations!”

The Stars of Education event also celebrates individuals and organizations who have made a significant impact on OKCPS. The Sam and Charolet Shirley Outstanding Principal Award winners, Kandy Bishop of Monroe Elementary and Shane Nelson of Putnam Heights Academy, received a cash award of $5,000 plus $1,000 to use toward projects at their schools. 

New this year were the Willie O. Reynolds Excellence in Science Teaching Award and the Barbary Ann Norman Keith Excellence in Math Teaching Award, established by 2023 OKCPS Wall of Fame member Cuong Do and his brother, Hung Do. Dominique Poncelet at Southeast Middle School and Julianne Anthony at Wheeler Middle School, the respective winners of these awards, received a $2,500 cash award for personal use and $2,500 to put towards a project for their classroom.

Additional awards were given to recognize: 

-OKCPS Volunteer Spotlight Award winners Tina Murray at Hawthorne Elementary, Becky Robinson at Nichols Hills Elementary and Meredith Monaco at John Marshall Enterprise High School

-OKCPS Support Staff Spotlight Award winners Lashona Fields at Arthur Elementary, Silvia Sanchez at Hawthorne Elementary and Katie Madison at Monroe Elementary

-OKCPS Community Partner Spotlight Award winners Dell Technologies, Reign Capital Holdings and Northwest Baptist Church

All Spotlight awards included a cash prize from the OKCPS Foundation to the winner and/or the school where they serve.

Dick and Glenna Tanenbaum and Fowler Automotive Group were this year’s Stars of Education Diamond event sponsors. American Fidelity, Crossings Community Church, Devon Energy, Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, McLaughlin Family Foundation, Miller Family Foundation, Richison Family Foundation, Ed and Jodi Sanchez and Sonic Foundation also supported the event as Platinum sponsors. 

“Each year, I am more and more amazed by the things I learn about the outstanding teachers we have here in OKCPS. “Congratulations to these nine finalists. Your unwavering commitment to education combined with your innovative teaching methods and heart for your students have set you apart. This well-deserved recognition is a testament to your dedication and the positive influence you’ve had on countless lives. Thank you.” – OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel

To our stars of education, our nine phenomenal Teacher of the Year finalists: congratulations on this recognition. Your impact reaches far beyond the classroom and is inspiring. It is an honor for us to be able to celebrate you.” – Mary Melon-Tully, President and CEO of OKCPS Foundation

View Past Teacher of the Year Winners
Diamond Sponsors

Richard & Glenna Tanenbaum

Fowler Automotive

Sonic Foundation

Platinum Sponsors

American Fidelity Foundation

Crossing Community Church

Devon Energy

Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores

McLaughlin Family Foundation

Miller Family Foundation

Richison Family Foundation

Ed and Jodi Sanchez

Gold Sponsors

Chesapeake Energy


Cox Communications

Diamondback Energy

E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation

Terry McGhee


Natalie Shirley

Silver Sponsors


Ascent Resources


Rand Elliot Architects

First United Bank


Kelly Education

Rob and Chrissy McLaughlin

Quad Construction

Ray and Pat Potts

Highlights from Stars of Education 2023