The Duncan Banner

November 14, 2012

Hurst named teacher of the year

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — The Sandra Hurst who sat in a classroom in Duncan High School isn’t the same Sandra Hurst who was recognized as the teacher of the year for the 2012-13 school year.

Hurst, who received the district’s top teaching honor Tuesday, said a lot has changed since she was a DHS student. She has become more outgoing and has found her calling in challenging students as a DHS teacher.

When Hurst was named the teacher of the year, which occurred following an envelop opening by Superintendent Sherry Labyer, Hurst found herself speechless, something she admitted doesn’t happen often. After she found her words, she acknowledged the role teachers play in students’ lives, and the positive impact she is trying to have on the students.

“We do make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Hurst said.

As an English teacher, Hurst usually finds herself well-spoken. But following her recognition, she couldn’t think of anything original to say. In the most formulaic terms, she was honored and she was excited.

“Every cliché in the book,” Hurst said. “I’m really shocked. You never think you could possibly win.”

But she did win.

And it was the honor of teachers, family members and various other community members to go up and congratulate her following the ceremony. Her family appeared as all smiles, with the exception of her mother who was brought to tears with joy.

Hurst said her family helped to make the moment even more special for her because they were there to watch her recognition.

Prior to Hurst being named teacher of the year, Labyer and 2011-12 teacher of the year Maria Martinez talked about the importance of the ceremony.

“This is a really good day to honor teachers,” Labyer said. “There’s nothing better than to have peers choose them.”

That’s how the process worked.

Teachers at each site chose one educator to represent their school. Once all the nominees were chosen, district-wide teachers voted for who they wanted to be their teacher of the year.

Hurst has been through this process before. She was previously nominated for teacher of the year in 2010, although the honor went to Dede Lee, Will Rogers Pre-Kindergarten teacher.

The ceremony and alerting the teacher of the year candidates was something the Professional Development Committee was in charge of. Darla Skinner is this year’s president of the committee.

Usually the outgoing teacher of the year doesn’t get to speak much during the ceremony. But that changed this year. Martinez was asked to speak, to provide words of encouragement for this year’s nominees.

She used the word “pearl” to describe how unique and amazing great teachers can be. Each letter of the word also represented a quality Martinez found in all of this year’s candidates: “Precious,”  "Extraordinary," “Admirable,” “Rare,” “Lovely,” “Splendid.”

“I want to encourage all teachers to be pearls,” Martinez said.