Oklahoma Teacher Gets National Honor

8-24-05 - Annette Dake expected she was going to film a morning school assembly when she walked into the gymnasium of Bridge Creek Elementary School here.

Dake had no idea Tuesday's event was being held to honor her and her teaching methods, which inspired a state law this past legislative session.

Carolyn Snowbarger, a director with the U.S. Department of Education, presented Dake with the No Child Left Behind 2005 American Star of Teaching for figuring out a way to coax her elementary students into daily 5-mile walks.

Dake covered her face with her hands as cheers from students echoed throughout the school gymnasium. She also got a certificate from state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett.

"I'm just in shock. I was ready for a 'rise and shine' (assembly)," she said. "I didn't have a clue."

Her methods helped lead to House Bill 1647, the Oklahoma Kids Fitness Challenge Act, which Gov. Brad Henry signed in April. The legislation encourages other schools to try the Walk Across Oklahoma program.

Dake and fellow teachers last year helped fifth-graders map out a five-mile route on a state map and then took virtual walking tours of those areas. They spent the time learning Oklahoma geography and history.

The fourth- and fifth-grade art teacher and Gifted and Talented instructor, is Oklahoma's only recipient of the national award, which Snowbarger said highlights effective teaching practices. One teacher from each state and the District of Columbia are being recognized with the award, she said.

"I have great support from this school," said Dake, who has taught in Bridge Creek for 14 years. "Our principal wants to remain innovative, and we just like to have fun."

More than 2,000 U.S. educators were nominated, Snowbarger said.