Peters Teacher of the Year
Fifth grade teacher Andree Lira has been named the Peters Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
Lira started teaching at Union in 2004. “I had taken a semester off after college and then decided to go to a job fair at the UMAC because I wanted to still live in the Tulsa area and teach close to my family. I chose Union because then Principal Jennifer Randall had a huge impact on me in that interview that year and gave me a chance to get started. I had heard amazing things about Union Public Schools so I'm very blessed to have been given the opportunity to start my career here. Each year I am reminded more and more of why this district is a privilege to be a part of-we truly are a family among families.”
Lira decided to become a teacher right out of high school when she enrolled for her freshman year classes in college.
“I had worked with many kids in high school through mentorship programs and truly enjoyed the connections I made with them,” Lira said. “As many months went on, I learned quite quickly, that many children did not grow up with many of the same benefits you would expect all children to have. That made me want to work with kids more and have a positive impact on their lives and be someone they could depend on.”
Lira said she tries her best to handle students different learning methods by personalizing the curriculum for them so they can understand it.
“If they don't have a connection to it somehow, they won't remember it when they leave our classroom. That may be in small groups, one-on-one or even many different games we use to incorporate to gain those connections to the curriculum and carry it further from the classroom. I continue to try things many times through trial and error and then repeat strategies that stick and work for my students,” she said.
Teaching for 14 years now, above all, she wants her students to remember that she genuinely cared for them as a person. “Of course, the goal is to teach them what they need to know and hope that they will not forget it but if they don’t feel loved, respected and cared for each and every day, all of that is out the window. I want them to remember that they have a significant place in this world and no matter what they choose to do, they have to work really hard to achieve that.”
Lira hopes to be in the classroom in the near future.
“I still see myself teaching in five years. At times, I reevaluate if I'd like to continue and that passion to still be with kids each day remains steady. It's hard to believe I've been teaching this long already but that fulfillment I get with teaching is so satisfying,” Lira said.
Lira went to Jenks High School from 3rd-12th grade. “After high school I went to Redlands Community College on a volleyball scholarship and began my education classes where I obtained an associate's degree in elementary education. After those 2 years, I attended Southern Nazarene University on a volleyball scholarship and finished college with a bachelor's degree in elementary education,” she said.