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EOSC professor to receive Oklahoma Medal for Excellence

2/22/2013


WILBURTON, OK (Feb. 22, 2013) – Eastern Oklahoma State College professor Ruth Askew Brelsford has been announced as one of five outstanding educators in Oklahoma’s public schools by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

Brelsford, professor and department chair in speech and theatre and Honors Program coordinator, will receive the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College at the foundation’s 27th annual Academic Awards Banquet on May 18 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Brelsford’s 26-year career as an educator has included teaching in middle school, high school and university settings, as well as in a college creative writing program for inmates at a local prison. In each case, her teaching challenges students not only to comprehend concepts, but also to analyze, evaluate and apply their knowledge to real-world problems.

“My teaching techniques are based on listening to students and then introducing them to that really huge world out there, reminding them that they have every right to succeed in it – and can – but they have to think critically and communicate effectively,” said Brelsford, who teaches Eastern’s introductory speech course.

As the Honors Program director, Brelsford also teaches an Honors Seminar each semester that challenges students not only to read and write about great social and political issues, but also to take action in their community. Their projects have included launching a campuswide recycling program, making 1,000 paper cranes for a Japanese Relief project, raising $1,000 for tsunami relief, and currently, developing a mentoring program to serve at-risk youth at Wilburton Middle School.

Brelsford is also an adviser to many international students, inviting them to her home for meals, taking them on outings to attend cultural events and involving them in community projects. Outside the classroom, Brelsford and her students have co-led voter registration drives, coordinated a Constitution Day forum and organized Veteran’s Day observances on campus.

“Professor Brelsford instills an appreciation for education that reaches far beyond academia,” said student Colby Lloyd Carpenter. “She teaches her students the practical application of an educated mind. For that, I will always be grateful to her.”

This year’s other Medal for Excellence winners are: Dr. Jill Edwards Steeley, Central Elementary School, Coweta, elementary teaching; John Waldron, Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa, secondary teaching; Dr. Richard A. Bunce, professor of chemistry, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, research university teaching; and Dr. Cathy Burden, superintendent of schools, Union Public Schools, Tulsa, elementary/secondary administration.

“We know that education is the best investment Oklahoma can make in its future,” said David L. Boren, founder and chairman of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a non-profit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in the state’s public schools. “By honoring these exceptional educators, we are sending a message that Oklahomans deeply value excellence in public schools and the professionals who have given so much of themselves to enrich the lives of our children.”

Each of the five winners will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a glass “Roots and Wings” sculpture, designed by the late Oklahoma artist Ron Roberts and produced by Jim Triffo of Oklahoma City. Medals are awarded annually to outstanding Oklahoma teachers, one each at the elementary, secondary, community college/regional university and research university levels.

In addition, the foundation presents a Medal for Excellence to an exceptional administrator from the elementary or secondary level. In addition to presenting the Medal for Excellence awards, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence will honor 100 of Oklahoma’s top public high school seniors as Academic All-Staters at its May 18 banquet. The event will feature a keynote address by Thomas L. Friedman, three-time Pulitzer-prize winning author and journalist. The Academic Awards Banquet is open to the public, with admission priced at $50. The awards ceremony will be televised statewide by OETA, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, at 8 p.m. May 25. For more information, call the Foundation for Excellence office at 405-236-0006 or visit its website at www.ofe.org.

Founded in 1985, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a statewide organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Through its Academic Awards Program, the foundation has provided more than $4 million in scholarships and cash awards to honor outstanding students and exceptional educators.

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