DURANT, OK-A Durant teacher has spent the last three months recovering from serious injuries after she was hit by a car. Wednesday, it was announced she's in the running for Oklahoma's highest teaching award.
Durant 8th grade Science teacher, Mara Richards, is one of 12 finalists for Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year award. Last April, Richards was severely injured when she was struck by a vehicle. Wednesday, Richards tells us about her recovery and what this nomination means to her. We also hear from one of her students, who said Richards is his inspiration.
"It's unreal just to think about a few months ago, how bad it was and then today it's awesome," Richards said.
The Durant 8th grade teacher missed the last two months of school after she was struck by a car last April, just a few blocks from her home. Richards had severe head injuries and had to be flown to a Plano hospital.
"I don't remember anything about the accident. In the first few days, in the first 4 to 5 days, they said I was talking to everyone and told them I'll be back in school in a few days but that didn't happen," she laughed.
Even though she was not well enough to finish the school year, she said there's nowhere she'd rather be than her classroom. That's one of the reasons Oklahoma State Superintendent, Janet Barresi, announced Richards as one of 12 finalists for the state's highest teaching honor: The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year award.
"I'm very excited. It's an honor to represent all the teachers in Durant because everybody's a good teacher here," said Richards.
"Mara's the type of person who can pull through it, not only physically, emotionally and spiritually better than anybody. She just got the strength of character and she's got the never quit attitude."
Durant Superintendent, Dr. Jason Simeroth, said Richards is dedicated to her work and her students, taking the time to make sure they learn.
One of those students is Suparshva Parikh, who said Richards is the reason why he wants to be a doctor.
"To me that shows that I need to be persevering in my future because if I want to achieve something, I need to go after it with all my heart," he said.
Richards has been teaching for 15 years and hopes to keep doing what she loves.
"My first thing is I want those kids to know that I believe in them and that they can trust me and it starts out that way. I just have the passion for teaching and a passion for students," she said.
The winner of the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year award will be announced at the state fair in September. If Richards wins the state award, she will represent Oklahoma for the National Teacher of the Year competition.
Richards plans to return to her classroom this fall.