Transformative Teacher Award

The Transformative Teacher Award recognizes instructors who have had a profound effect on the students who have passed through their classrooms. They have shaped the lives and artistic paths of their students through their devotion to their craft and abilities as educators. Award winners are selected through nominations by Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute students and the teachers listed below have stood out as truly exceptional.

The Transformative Teacher Awards are sponsored by BOK Financial.

2023 Recipients

Debra Thoreson

Dewey High School

English Teacher

"Mrs. Thoreson has a passion for writing and she inspires her students to be excited about writing. She makes suggestions in a way that makes students feel comfortable. She introduced the 'Poetry Out Loud' competition to our school and helps students to appreciate poetry and literature daily." -Gracie Pennel, OSAI student

Kyle Todaro

Broken Arrow High School

Visual Arts Teacher

"When Mr. Todaro is teaching or creating art, you can tell that this is what he was meant to do. He is always enthusiastic to teach his students and teaches/createz with such passion that it spreads to all of his students as well. He is always trying to push creativity and his students to be the best they can and is always trying to serve the community/school. He is involved in other creative activities such as helping art club create murals for the district and library as well. He also takes time to support other fine arts like choir or band in his free time. Overall, he is a teacher that has greatly impacted and improved the lives of students around him." -Thalia Torres, OSAI student

Lacye Russell

Oklahoma Bible Academy

Visual Arts Teacher

"Mrs. Russell has poured her heart and soul into art for many years across the state of Oklahoma from university, to high school, to community projects. She has found her niche at Oklahoma Bible Academy, where she has raised the art department to a new level. She has taught/mentored many award winning artists, and given confidence to several students who did not know they had it in them. She has turned OBA art department into a juggernaut." -Becca Benjamin, OSAI student

2022 Recipients

Merrie Palmer
Ada High School
Fine Arts Director and Performing Arts Teacher

Clifton Raphael
Jenks High School
Film & Broadcast Journalism Teacher

Amy Reynolds-Reed
Dance Unlimited (OKC)
Owner, Artistic Director, Instructor

Samantha Taylor
Collinsville High School
Vocal Music Teacher

Colin Waddell
Putnam City High School
Orchestra Director