Thirty-four-year-old Brian Grimm, an English instructor at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, has been named Oklahoma’s 2010 Teacher of the Year.
I was honored to make this announcement this week before a standing-room-only audience of educators, friends and family members at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City. Grimm repeatedly motioned “thumbs up” while accepting a “prize package” valued at more than $60,000.
The prizes from numerous, generous sponsors includes: Teacher of the Year trophy; $11,000 in cash awards and stipends; a laptop computer; a year’s lease of a Toyota Prius; thousands of dollars in Oklahoma college tuition fee waivers; a $500 credit toward a classroom makeover; specialized training; and software and computer equipment for the classroom.
As Teacher of the Year, Grimm will spend the next year as “Oklahoma’s Ambassador of Teaching” and will represent our state in the National
Teacher of the Year ceremony.
A native Oklahoman, Grimm attended school in Sapulpa before relocating to Texas with his family. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He credits his family’s influence as educators, and the mentoring of two college professors with his dedication to his profession. “I never considered anything but teaching,” he said.
Grimm returned to the Tulsa area in 2004, when he was employed at Will Rogers, a Title I school beset with problems common to urban schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
He says he was challenged to make the curriculum “relevant to kids with so much on their plates,” and credits his success and that of his students as a joint effort between school administrators, fellow teachers and district officials.
He admits his career as an educator was almost derailed by frustration and disillusionment. Nothing in his earlier experiences—teaching well prepared students in affluent schools—had prepared him for the students plagued with generational poverty he found at Will Rogers High.
After much thought and contemplation that first year at Will Rogers, Grimm became determined to reach deep in his educator’s toolbox to do whatever needed to reach his students and be an effective teacher. He hasn’t looked back since.
While Grimm says his message is simple, “You can do it!,” he says success with challenged students required him to think beyond traditional methods.
“In a contemporary classroom filled with students from diverse backgrounds…there is no particular formula, no exact equation for success,” he says. Teachers just need to “go to school every day and be prepared to try something new.”
I wholeheartedly agree, Mr. Grimm. Congratulations!