NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Moore schoolteacher gains national recognition

Annette Huett, Moore Public Schools teacher Photo Provided - Photo Provided
Annette Huett, Moore Public Schools teacher Photo Provided - Photo Provided

Annette Huett was asked to finish a sentence — “For me the key to teaching is ...”

Huett, who teaches at Kelley Elementary in Moore Public Schools and was a 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award winner in the category of science, completed the sentence quickly.

“Connecting with the students so that they will want to be lifelong learners,” said Huett, 45, of Moore. “My favorite quote is, ‘No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.'

“Once students know you care about them you gain their respect. If you can gain that you in return gain their attention. Once you have their attention you can teach them just about anything.”

That line of thinking can be traced to what Huett's parents and grandparents stressed when she was growing up.

“Both of my grandfathers were preachers and often told me if you show people a little bit of Jesus it goes a long way with getting them to listen to you and learn from you,” she said of her grandfathers Claude Douglas and Kenneth Harris. “In my first year of teaching I quickly realized that what they had told me was true. My students listened closer and learned more quickly once they knew I was there for them no matter what.

“As I changed grades I learned that it is even more important to show the older students how much you care about them. Students who know you care about them try harder too ... on their work.”

Huett began teaching in 1990 at Epperly Heights Elementary and taught there for 15 years. She moved to Del City Elementary for two years before she came to Moore in 2007. Currently, she teaches fourth grade science and language arts at Kelley Elementary.

She has led several workshops on science safety; teaching mathematics and reading scientifically; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to help colleagues in her district and state. She loves to help others feel comfortable teaching hands-on science.

Last year, Huett involved her school in the district Science Fair. Because a science fair had not been done for a few years, she held after-school sessions for students who needed assistance with their projects. She has also served in a leadership capacity for several years through organizations and committees.

She learned in 2012 that she was a state level finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. But she didn't find out she was one of two winners from Oklahoma for the national award until Dec. 20, 2013. Diane Reece, who had taught at Bokoshe Elementary for 24 years, was also named as a recipient. Reece, a respected and loved educator, died of leukemia on Dec. 4. She was 61.

National recognition

“It is special because I haven't been to Washington, D.C. since I was 10 years old,” Huett said. “I feel our country's capital is a special place. Getting to go there and get the award from the president himself is the highest honor I feel like I could ever get.”

The award is also special because of others who are special to her, specifically family members.

“That is still hard for me emotionally,” she said. “My mom, Carol Harris, played a big role of who I am as a teacher. She encouraged me every step of the way. She even bought me the outfit I wore when I accepted my award for being a state level finalist.

“She passed away this last September before she got to find out that I was one of the two winners for our state. I know she would be proud and would be my loudest cheerleader.”

Huett said her dad Allan Harris and stepmom Patty Harris have been there for her each step of the way as well. Huett's husband, Gary, is “my tech guy.”

“He helped me set up my video and sound,” she said of the video submitted during the award process. “He helped me format and download my video. Without his help and support I couldn't have done the final part of the process.

“My two daughters (Shelby Howland, Jennifer Caldwell) have always been proud of me being a teacher, but now they grin ear to ear as they tell people I'm a teacher. I have three wonderful grandsons, but the oldest, who is a first grader, was so excited to tell his teacher that his grandma was going to see the president to get an award.”

Huett said her sister, Melissa Fisher, has been there for her when she had doubts about teaching. Her sister has been an encourager “to keep doing what God has put me on this earth to do.”

“My family is a huge part of who I am as a teacher and without their support I couldn't do what I do every day,” Huett said.

A fire for teaching

Huett said she took a workshop in 2006 led by Gaile Loving that totally changed the way she viewed and taught science.

Loving and her team of teachers showed Huett how to work science into math, reading, and writing. They also explained how inquiry learning takes place in science and how to implement it into a classroom setting.

“They helped me relight my fire for teaching and made me want to stay in the career that God put me on this earth to do,” Huett said.

Huett is also appreciative of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association for their support through the years and calls them “a great resource.”

Huett is scheduled to go to Washington, D.C. March 2-5 for celebrations and ceremonies.

“The opportunity to get to talk with our country's officials about what is needed in the elementary area to apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into our curriculum is an honor,” she said.

Huett anticipates and appreciates the professional development she will receive while she is there. She is looking forward to applying what she learns in her classroom and sharing it with others in the district and the state.

“I would like to thank Moore Public Schools for supporting me in this process and supplying me with the equipment needed to teach inquiry science and I thank my team teachers I work with daily, Dosha Petete and Barbie Gomez,” Huett said. “Last I would like to thank my principal, Dena Taylor. She has continually supported and encouraged me not only in this process, but daily as a teacher.”

Bryan Painter

Read more ›