About Tulsa Public Schools
Our mission is to inspire and prepare every student to love learning, achieve ambitious goals, and make positive contributions to our world. We are the destination for extraordinary educators who work with our community and families to ignite the joy of learning and prepare every student for the greatest success in college, careers, and life.
38% Multilingual learners*
14% students with disabilities
11% gifted and talented
5% American Indian or Alaska Native
2% Asian/Pacific islander
As of Oct. 2021
*Represents both current and former multilingual learners
Tulsa Public Schools is a district on the move! We have academic programs that meet the needs of all learners, and we welcome you and your child to join the Tulsa family by enrolling today.
*Our third Montessori program will launch in the 2022-2023 school year
Team Tulsa is "all in" to ensure that every student has access to exceptional learning experiences. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a child, we encourage you to learn more about available positions on our team.
Deborah A. Gist
Joined Team Tulsa - July 2015
I joined Team Tulsa because being a part of Tulsa Public Schools combines the things I love most—children, family, teachers, education, Tulsans, hard work, and opportunities to make a difference.
Experience: I have worked in public education for more than 30 years at the school, district, and state levels. I started my career as an elementary school teacher in Texas, designed and implemented a literacy program at 108 schools in Florida, and served as a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Education. I was also the first state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia; overseeing early childhood, elementary, secondary, adult, and higher education. Before coming back home to Tulsa, I served as education commissioner for the State of Rhode Island.
Education: B.S. early childhood education, University of Oklahoma; M.A. elementary education and curriculum, University of South Florida; M.P.A., Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government; Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Favorite Teacher: I've had many wonderful teachers including Mrs. White at Carnegie Elementary, Mr. Wiley at Grimes Elementary, Mrs. Gaddis (now Representative Gaddis) from Memorial High School, Mrs. Ratliff and Mrs. Trotter at Nimitz Junior High School.
Favorite place in Tulsa: Other than being in any classroom with teachers and students, I honestly love just being at home with family or together at Harvard Avenue Christian Church. I also adore our museums, parks, libraries and restaurants. Tulsa is so full of great things to do that it would be hard to choose just one!
Joined Team Tulsa - July 2015
In doing research on Tulsa, it was clear that there was something special underway in the city—and that Tulsans care a great deal about education. Tulsa captured my heart, and I'm committed to leading alongside many dedicated educators and staff to ensure that each young Tulsan is able to realize their full potential.
Experience: My career in education started as a Teach for America corps member in Houston, TX. Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked for Providence Public Schools, Syracuse City School District, and Achievement First serving as a teacher, literacy coach, curriculum director, and chief academic officer. I came to Tulsa as the district’s chief of staff in 2015 and took on the role of deputy superintendent in 2016.
Education: B.A., University of Notre Dame; M.Ed., Lesley University; M.A., University of Rhode Island
Favorite Teacher: Christophe Kougniazonde at Notre Dame challenged my thinking early in my post-secondary career. As I became a teacher, I realized the gift that Christophe gave to me—a deep belief in the power of transformative relationships and the role that we can play in creating connectedness and helping young people make meaning of the world around them.
Favorite place in Tulsa: I'm less into places and more into experiences. A current favorite is mountain biking in Turkey Mountain followed by a coffee at Double Shot or Hodges Bend.
CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER
Joined Team Tulsa - July 2017
Team Tulsa is a place where I believe I make a difference for schools and children and the City of Tulsa is a place that my family can call home. I believe that schools are, first and foremost, part of the fabric of a city; I wanted to join a school district that shares that belief.
Experience: I am fortunate to have spent my 15-year career in public education serving students, teachers, and families at the school, district, and state levels.
Education: B.A., Brown University; Ed.M., Harvard University
Leader for: Design and Innovation Lab
Favorite Teacher: My favorite teacher was Danny Duncan, my high school track coach. Danny expected more of us than we expected from ourselves, and we never wanted to disappoint him by failing to reach his high standards.
Favorite place in Tulsa: Being new to Tulsa means constantly making new discoveries. Currently topping my list is Turkey Mountain (because it feels like I am on a hike but still in the city), Las Americas grocery store (because it feels like we are in Mexico) and the Boston Avenue Methodist Church (where I like to park and admire the deco details).
Chief Information and Analytics Officer
Joined Team Tulsa - 1991
I joined team Tulsa right after my education at NSU. My first job was as a budget accountant and was hired by Tulsa Public Schools and longtime Union CFO Debbie Jacoby. Talk about having a great first boss.
Education: B.S., Oklahoma State University; M.B.A., Northeastern State University.
Leader for: Data, analytics, and IT
Favorite Teacher: Memorial High School history teacher Mr. Travis Henderson, hands down. I remember he always referred to us as scholars and told us those who failed to learn the lessons of history were doomed to repeat them, or some variation. His approach to history was hands on and we had to team build and present our projects in class. Think STEM in the early 80s! Interesting turn of events, I was fortunate enough to be able to support his career throughout my various roles within the district.
Favorite place in Tulsa: As a lifelong Tulsan, except 4 years in Stillwater, there is a special place in my heart for Bell's Amusement Park. Now that Tulsa has so many awesome places that families can go explore and enjoy, it is hard to choose. However, right now it is the backyard, grilling with family and friends and trying to keep up with the grandkids.
CHIEF talent and equity OFFICER
Joined Team Tulsa - August 2016
Experience: I served as lead on curriculum and instruction, academic strategic planning, and standards adoption and implementation at Denver Public Schoos. I also worked in Detroit as managing director at New Urban Learning overseeing all agency operations.
Education: B.A. and M.B.A., University of Texas, Austin; M.Ed., The Broad Center
Leader for: Talent Management team -- building strong talent recruitment, retention, and development strategies responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.
Favorite place in Tulsa: I love people-watching in Brookside, especially from the patio at Cosmo Cafe!
Chief Learning Officer
Joined Team Tulsa - October 2005
Experience: Dr. Johnson recently served as our executive director of student and family support services, and has served as a teacher, teacher coach, dean/assistant principal, and principal in her 20-year career in public education. Her time in Tulsa Public Schools includes serving as school leader at Academy Central Elementary School, McLain High School, and Central High School.
Education: Dr. Johnson is a proud McLain graduate and holds a BA and an MA in Education from Northeastern State University and an Ed.D. from the University of Oklahoma.
Leader for: Teaching and learning, educator effectiveness, professional learning, personalized learning, language and cultural services, exceptional student services.
Joined Team Tulsa - Spring 2011
I wanted challenging work on a high-performing team that improves outcomes for children and families.
Experience: Prior to my current position, my most recent Tulsa Public Schools experience involved leading the design of our district strategic plan and co-developing our teacher evaluation system with the district's teachers. Before working at TPS, I spent many years as a school law attorney, and though I taught middle school for only a brief period of time, it is one of my career highlights.
Education: B.A., Plan I, at University of Texas, Austin; J.D. at University of Texas, Austin
Leader for: Legal
Favorite Teacher: My global economic geography teacher at UT Austin. He opened my world and changed my life course by introducing me to a field of study that connects economics, demography, culture, sociology, environment and location.
Favorite place in Tulsa: The renovated Tulsa City/County Library - it's beautiful, it's a place for everyone, and the possibilities are endless.
Chief Finance and operations officer
Joined Team Tulsa - May 2018
I joined Team Tulsa for the opportunity to work with an amazing team of talented and committed professionals on realizing a vision of providing a positive, safe, healthy and engaging daily educational experience for every student, for every educator and for our community in the city of Tulsa.
Experience: I join Tulsa Public Schools after five years in Denver Public Schools where I led the district’s English language acquisition department and the bilingual and newcomer programs serving approximately 38,000 students whose native language was not English. Before moving into public education, I spent 15 years in the private sector working in financial services, marketing and business development.
Education: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (Agriculture Engineering), M.B.A., University of Texas, Austin; M.Ed., The Broad Center
Favorite Teacher: My American history teacher Dr. Morrison in high school taught me the value of learning history to understand the present and shape the future.
Favorite place in Tulsa: Riverparks trail and the Midland Valley trail. I also really like the lakes around Tulsa.
Our 5,520 Team Members*
Distribution of Our Team*
- 26% Black
- 5% American Indian or Alaska Native
- 2% Asian/Pacific Islander
- 11% Hispanic/Latinx
- 56% White
*As of October 18, 2021
3rd Largest Employer
in the Tulsa Area**
**According to the most recent (2020) Comprehensive Annual Financial Report from Tulsa County
- Stacey Woolley (President), District 1
- Judith Barba Perez, District 2
- Jennettie Marshall, District 3
- E'Lena Ashley, District 4
- John Croisant (Vice President), District 5
- Jerry Griffin, District 6
- Susan Lamkin, District 7
Click here for more information about the Board of Education.
All children deserve the opportunity to develop their full academic and social potential. Valuing equity means that we must provide resources and supports matched to student need, for every student in every school. Our diversity is a community treasure, and we must foster an inclusive environment by examining biases and resolving unfair practices.
We are honest, trustworthy and have high standards of behavior. We make decisions, take action and approach our work based on what is best for our students and their success. We do the right thing even when it is hard. We face difficulty with courage and have the moral fortitude to act in accordance with our beliefs. While we do not always agree, we treat one another with kindness and respect.
Tulsa needs and expects world-class public schools. We work hard together and expect a lot of one another because high standards produce exemplary knowledge, skills, abilities and mindsets. Achieving excellence means striving for it every moment of every day. It means sweating the small stuff while we focus on the big picture with determination and persistence.
We care for one another, support the personal and professional development of one another, and work together to improve our community. Together we celebrate success, learn from struggles and invest in the development of our teams and team members. While we value our work together and invest mightily in it, we also honor and respect the commitments our team members have to their families and communities outside of work.
We love to have fun! Play is invaluable for students and adults alike. Joy at school and at work makes us more productive, because when we create, innovate and imagine, our motivation grows. At Tulsa Public Schools, we foster exuberant classrooms, schools and places of work where children and adults pursue their passions and are relentlessly curious. We want to ensure that everyone knows the excitement that comes from working deeply on a problem, task or concept and experiencing breakthrough moments.
Our Students Can
Every child can learn. Every child has talent. Every child has value. Great education is demanding and engaging, structured and joyful, challenging and supportive. To succeed in a competitive world and to serve as the next generation of leaders, students must engage in their education, own their learning and feel accepted and supported in our schools.
Our Teachers Make it Happen
Extraordinary teachers are the heart of successful schools. They must continually hone their craft and content knowledge to design engaging learning and facilitate success in every student. We require much of our teachers, and we must provide the conditions and work environments that promote professional satisfaction and student achievement. This means that our entire community must value, respect, and support teachers as the irreplaceable professionals they are.
Our Principals are Key
Principals’ responsibilities are strategic, vast and intense. As leaders, they must be visible, hire the right staff, cultivate talent, build relationships with families and communities, foster positive and safe school culture and ensure results. As such, the education service center must support principals’ growth as instructional leaders and be their primary support system in strengthening the quality of teaching and learning in all classrooms.
Our District is "All In"
Effective teams collaborate and continually assess and improve their service to schools. They attend to present needs while preparing for the future. This means our employees and board must work together, reflect, adjust, think ahead and innovate in service to powerful teaching and learning.
Our Community is Essential
Our children and schools need all of us—educators, families, and community partners. High quality schools are vital to the health of our community. We must engage our families and all of Tulsa by embracing transparency, holding ourselves accountable to high standards, proactively communicating and working as a team united in the success of every student.