During a special ceremony in Oklahoma City this morning, Tulsa Public Schools teacher Traci Manuel was named as the 2023 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Traci was selected from a group of 12 finalists including educators from districts across the state.
Manuel is an English language arts teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. She joined Team Tulsa in 2005 as a substitute teacher and has taught at Central High School and Carver Middle School. Manuel was named as Tulsa Public Schools 2022 Teacher of the Year in May 2022 and will now have the opportunity to participate in the National Teacher of the Year selection process.
“We have extraordinary teachers at Tulsa Public Schools, and we are beyond thrilled that Traci is representing not only the educators in our city but that she now has this special opportunity to be a voice for all of Oklahoma’s teachers,” said Superintendent Deborah Gist. “I am grateful for Traci’s deep commitment to Tulsa children and families!”
Manuel said: “Coming from a family of educators, it means a lot to me to be recognized for serving my students, their families, and our community. Education is truly my life, and I am proud to make a difference for our Tulsa Public Schools family while doing the work I love.”
“Traci is an outstanding teacher who gives so much of herself to see our kids succeed,” said Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Shawna Mott-Wright. “Traci makes such a difference in the lives of our students, and she deserves all of our respect and appreciation. I am so proud of her!”
The morning after the announcement, a special event was held at Booker T. Washington High School to celebrate.
During that event, Manuel talked about her path to becoming an educator. She talked about the many people who had invested and believed in her, and she talked about the importance of paying it forward. Then she called Booker T. student A'Taylor Elliot onto the stage and surprised her with the news that A'Taylor's first-semester tuition at The University of Oklahoma would be paid in full.
When Manuel was named as 2023 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, she received a certificate for a full semester's tuition at OU. She had the option to use that certificate for herself or to give it to someone else. Manuel chose to pay it forward, investing in A'Taylor the way so many others had invested in her along the way.