The Ellen Ochoa community will model and teach leadership skills and behaviors, challenge students to set and meet goals, inspire all students to develop and use their gifts and talents, and provide real world opportunities to positively impact the community.
Leader in Me
We are a Leader in Me school that uses the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to empower students and to provide opportunities for students to grow as leaders.
Ellen Ochoa is the newest school at Union Public Schools, opening its doors for the first time on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, thanks to the overwhelming support of voters for the first two phases of the school's construction during bond elections in 2016 and 2017. The new school welcomed about 500 students. Another 500 or so students are joining in 2019 with the completion of the second wing.
Union presented a third bond issue which was aproved by voters in February 2018 to allow Ellen Ochoa to accomodate another 500 students starting in the 2019-2020 school year. Not only will Ellen Ochoa address growth in the north central part of the district, it will free up elementary classroom space in other parts of the district. The school is going to be a beautiful addition to the area. It will be an energy-efficient, state-of-the art, student- and family-friendly Community School. Its amenities include open learning corridors, classrooms that share a common dream space, “maker spaces” for project-based learning, and a health clinic.
Union Public Schools officially broke ground on the site of its new elementary school with a ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The school was often called the 14th newest school but it actually replaced Briarglen Elementary School, which closed its doors in June 2017. Briarglen Elementary was Union's first elementary school and it served a pivitol service for the community from 1970 until 2017. The building will continue to serve the community as part of a planned partnership with Community Action Partnership.
Community School Village
Ellen Ochoa Elementary is the first purpose-built community school in the district. Ellen Ochoa serves the growing community in Union’s northeast quadrant. The building was completed in 2018, opening to a full complement of 1,100 students in August 2019. With the addition of an onsite clinic in 2020, Ellen Ochoa Elementary has since grown into a community school village. In April 2016, voters overwhelmingly approved the passage of the Vision Tulsa package, which included $9.975 million toward the funding of Community Health Connection’s new Eastside Clinic. The clinic offers a broad array of services, including dental, prenatal/post-partum, pediatrics, family medicine, integrated behavioral healthcare and discounted prescriptions to patients.
Elementary named after first Hispanic female astronaut
The Board of Education on March 20, 2017, approved the name of Union’s newest school as Ellen Ochoa Elementary in honor of the first Hispanic female astronaut and the current director of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The naming committee, which includes staff, students and parents, made the recommendation.
Born on May 10, 1958, in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Ellen Ochoa received her master of science and doctorate degrees at Stanford University. She was selected by NASA in 1990, and in 1991 became the world's first Hispanic female astronaut. A mission specialist and flight engineer, Ochoa is a veteran of four space flights, logging more than 950 hours in space.
Her technical assignments have included flight software and computer hardware development and robotics development, testing, and training. She has served as Assistant for Space Station to the Chief of the Astronaut Office, lead spacecraft communicator in Mission Control, and Acting Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. She currently serves as Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and she will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 19, 2017.
Ochoa graduated from Grossmont High School in La Mesa, California, in 1975 (Valedictorian), and received a bachelor of science degree in physics from San Diego State University in 1980 (Valedictorian). She then went on to attend Stanford University, where she received a master of science degree (1981) and a doctorate (1985), both in electrical engineering.
Ochoa's numerous awards include NASA's Exceptional Service Medal (1997), Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995), and Space Flight Medals (2002, 1999, 1994, 1993). Besides being an astronaut, researcher, and engineer, Ochoa is a classical flutist. She lives in Texas with her husband, Coe Fulmer Miles, and their two children.
Rita Long earned her master’s degree in math and science education from the University of Tulsa. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Oklahoma State University. She began her career at Jenks Public Schools in 1991and served as a classroom teacher, gifted coordinator and curriculum resource instructor.
Long came to Union in 2006 as an assistant principal for Rosa Parks Elementary before transferring to an assistant principal to McAuliffe in 2007. She served as McAuliffe Principal from 2008 until 2017, when she assumed duties for the new Ellen Ochoa Elementary.
Teresa Besses was named Assistant Pirncipal in 2020, after serving as administrative intern for Ellen Ochoa Elementary School since July 2019. Previously, she worked as a school counselor at Roy Clark Elementary for eight years.
While at Roy Clark, she was named that school’s Teacher of the Year in 2017. In addition to being a school counselor, she has been a licensed therapist since 2013. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa, a master’s degree in school counseling from Oklahoma State University and received her administration certification from Northeastern State University. Besses is married and has two children.
Taya Oelze was named assistant principal intern at Ellen Ochoa Elementary in summer 2022. She was named District Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year.
Oelze has been teaching kindergarten at Ellen Ochoa since it opened in 2017, and also has been serving as Hope Collective leader and coordinator for Union Public Schools since last September. She has been with Union since 2013, initially serving as a kindergarten and first grade looping teaching at McAuliffe Elementary. She also served as a Pledgetalk curriculum pilot director at Ellen Ochoa and kindergarten team lead.
Oelze has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in early child education from Oral Roberts University, a master’s degree in school administration from Oklahoma State University and was a full scholarship recipient in the Trauma Responsive Fellowship Program with Dr. Barbara Sorrels.