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Moore Teacher of the Year

Christa Kempenich, special education

Special education teacher Christa Kempenich has been named the Moore Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019.

“My path to becoming a teacher has been a passion filled journey,” Kempenich said. “I did not attend the University of Oklahoma with the intention of becoming a teacher but I knew I wanted to help others.”

After college, she was an assistant counselor at a high school in New Mexico, and she enjoyed working in the school and she really loved working with the kids.

When her family moved back to Oklahoma, Kempenich got a job as a program coordinator and recruiter for an agency that provided residential services for adults and children with developmental disabilities. 

“During that same time, I started recruiting foster families and certifying homes that wanted to take care of children with disabilities.  During that process, my family decided to provide care for a child with cerebral palsy.  We provided that care for seven years and when he decided to move in with other adults his age I decided I wanted to still work with children with disabilities so I took a job as a paraprofessional at Moore Elementary in 2013,” Kempenich said.  “With the knowledge I gained as a program coordinator, recruiter, and paraprofessional, I decided to get my teaching certification in special education.  Working with students with disabilities is the most rewarding job I could ever imagine.  I love the challenge of finding ways to help them learn and giving them the confidence to believe in their abilities.”

Kempenich said she chooses to drive from Wagoner every day to work at Moore Elementary because of her students, the support she receives from other educators, her principal, and the family atmosphere that she walks into every day. 

“One reason I stay with Union is the supportive parents,” Kempenich said.  “I love talking with parents and figuring out ways to best help their child.  I laugh with them, cry with them, and treat their child like my own.”

Kempenich’s favorite subject to teach is math. 

“My students are more likely to retain and understand a subject if they can see, hear, and move around during a lesson and I can provide all of those learning styles into my math lessons,” she said.  “For example, if I am teaching a first grade student how to identify coins and their value I have real coins for them to see/touch, we talk about the pictures on the coins and their significance, and I have them move around the classroom “purchasing” items with the correct amount of coins.”

The biggest obstacle she faces is knowing the state standards in math, reading, and writing for six different grades (K-5th) and then ensuring that her students are learning those standards.  

“With that obstacle, I have to figure out how each of my students learn because no two are exactly the same,” Kempenich said.  “I have to be patient and flexible because my students don’t learn at the same rate as their peers and often times I have to figure out multiple ways to teach one academic concept.  Often times I will have multiple students in my room from more than one grade level at the same time.  I have to juggle between teaching fourth grade math to one student, fifth grade reading to another group of students, and at the same time get another student started on a writing assignment.  I overcome this obstacle by putting the time in to learning the state standards, getting to know my students and how they learn, forming a relationship with families, and gaining all the knowledge I can about learning disabilities and how to support students.  Most importantly, I have to work closely with all members of the special services team at Moore Elementary.  We are a small team but we work tirelessly to make sure students receive all that they need to be successful.”               

Kempenich is working on her master’s degree.  “Eventually, I would like to be a special education director and continue to help students receive all the opportunities needed for them to be successful in school and in life,” she said.

Educational background:

  • 2001-Received Bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Oklahoma
  • 2014-Received special education teaching certification
  • Currently working towards Master’s Degree in K-12 Special Education from Arkansas State University

Teacher of the Year - Moore

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