By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Each summer, Stillwater Junior High special education teacher Beth Helms sacrifices eight weeks of her summer vacation to volunteer at a special needs camp in Guthrie.
“I just have a passion for working with people with special needs,” said Helms, one of three finalists for Stillwater Public Schools’ teacher of the year.
At the junior high, Helms is an eighth- and ninth-grade special education teacher who works with students with mild and moderate disabilities as well as those with severe and profound disabilities.
“All of my students need a lot of one-on-one attention,” Helms said. “They are all on a different learning level. But I love it. I love coming to work every day.”
Helms said her classroom is “student-based” and that students often participate in group work.
“My philosophy is to provide (students with) the tools to live life without limits,” Helms said. “We celebrate success of everything we do in the our classroom.”
Helms, a 2009 graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, has been in education for only three years. Helms said she was surprised to be recognized by her peers.
“I’m pretty shocked,” said Helms. “I was very honored being the site teacher of the year, but I am very shocked to be one of the three finalists. I am honored to be a part of a great district.”
“Ms. Helms has a huge heart for her kids,” said Stillwater Junior High School Principal Trent Swanson.
“There is always something fun and exciting going on in her classroom to engage the students in learning. The kids are truly blessed to have her as a teacher and she makes SJHS a greater place.”
Teacher of the Year candidates
Stillwater Public Schools has named the finalists for teacher of the year. The winner will be announced at a banquet May 6.
• Thursday: Jamie Bellah, Richmond Elementary School
• Friday: Beth Helms, Stillwater Junior High School
• Saturday: Crista McCann, Stillwater Middle School