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Stillwater Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced

(Stillwater, Oklahoma, March 12, 2024) Last week, Stillwater Public Schools announced three teachers as finalists for the district Teacher of the Year - Jenny Bobo, Rebecca Palmatary, and Mary Beth Talley.

Jenny BoboJenny Bobo
Stillwater Pioneer Virtual Academy, Virtual Secondary Teacher
Oklahoma State University graduate, joined SPS in 2009

“My teaching journey began during my college years when I discovered a natural knack for tutoring my peers. It was in graduate school, while teaching chemistry laboratory classes, that I truly realized my passion for education,” says Bobo. “Through this experience, I recognized my ability to simplify complex concepts and make them more accessible to students. It was then I understood teaching wasn't just a career choice, but my true calling.  I've had the incredible opportunity to educate students in various communities, working my way north, from Choctaw to Guthrie, and finally finding my home here in Stillwater, where I've dedicated the last fifteen years of my career.” 

Currently, Bobo teaches at the Stillwater Pioneer Virtual Academy and says it feels like where she was always meant to be. “The ability to connect with students in this innovative setting has been incredibly rewarding. This role also affords me the unique position to collaborate with educators from across the district allowing us to utilize both of our disciplines to create an ideal outcome for each of my students. As educators, I believe it is only through collaboration that we can achieve the best outcomes for our students.”

"I am deeply honored and humbled to be considered a finalist for Teacher of the Year in our district,” she says. “It's a privilege to represent the dedicated educators who tirelessly strive to make a difference every single day. Knowing that the other educators in the running are remarkable individuals fills me with conflicting gratitude and humility while I face the reality that I was chosen to share this journey with them."

Rebecca PalmataryRebecca Palmatary
Stillwater Junior High School, STEM & Computer Science Teacher
Oklahoma State University graduate, joined SPS in 2006

Becoming a teacher was not the initial plan for my career journey,” says Palmatary. “I had set my sights on becoming a chemical engineer, driven by a fascination with the complexities of molecules and reactions combined with the problem-solving drive of engineering. However, a pivotal internship in a laboratory became a turning point in my life, leading me to reconsider my path. It was during this internship that I realized my true calling was not in manipulating substances in a lab but pursuing my true passion of helping others. The decision to become a teacher was influenced by a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of all students.”

Throughout her time teaching in Stillwater Public Schools, Palmatary says she’s been fortunate to experience a diverse range of educational roles and opportunities – a formative student teaching experience under the mentorship of the Mrs. Fox at Westwood, time spent teaching Pre-K, a decade-long tenure in fourth grade, and five years of Gifted Education, culminating in her current role at teaching STEM and Computer Science at Stillwater Junior High.

Palmatary says she also pursues ways to impact students outside of her classroom responsibilities. “During the summer months, I've dedicated my time to various educational initiatives, including teaching at Meridian Technology Center during their Technovation Days and serving as both a Computer Science instructor for first-generation college-bound high school students and a kids coding camp instructor at Oklahoma State University. I also take great pride in being one of  the creators of the annual Indian Education Summer STEM camp, which provides unique learning experiences for students.”  She has also worked to offer extracurricular opportunities for students, including after school technology classes, and coaching in various capacities. Currently, she serves as the coach for the Stillwater Junior High Cheer Squad, and oversees five Junior High Robotics teams, and two High School Robotics teams.

"Being named a finalist is an incredible honor, and I am truly humbled to be recognized among the outstanding educators in Stillwater. There are so many remarkable individuals contributing to our education community, and I am grateful for the opportunity to stand among them,” says Palmatary. “I am also excited to showcase the innovative STEM and Computer Science programs at our Junior High and to represent the dedication and excellence of our school."

Mary Beth TalleyMary Beth Talley
Sangre Ridge Elementary, Pre-K Teacher
Oklahoma State University graduate, joined SPS in 2005

“Like many college students, I wasn’t exactly sure of my path,” says Talley. “ I knew I loved helping children and families and soon fell into the major of Family Relations and Child Development.  The summer before my senior year of college, I interned and lived at the Oklahoma Baptist Children’s Home working with the children’s director.  By the end of the summer, I knew I wanted to work with children and help in some way.  My mother-n-law encouraged me to seek out Early Childhood Education.  I have now been teaching for 18 years, playing an important role in setting the foundation for our youngest learners.”  

Talley has spent her entire teaching career in Stillwater.  “I love the people here!  I was not born and raised here in Stillwater, but I fell in love with this town when I came here to college.  It is a wonderful community to raise my two children in, and it is here that I have made lifelong friendships.” She has taught Pre-K at both Sangre Ridge Elementary and, for  two years, at the district’s Golden Oaks intergenerational Pre-k program.  In 2021, she obtained her National Board Certification in Early Childhood Education. 

“Sangre Ridge Elementary has a special place in my heart and feels like a second home to me, she says. “I have been fortunate to work alongside wonderful teachers and administrators who have mentored me and  encouraged me along the way.  I am grateful to be a part of Stillwater Public School’s team of educators.”

“I am honored and humbled to be a teacher of the year finalist,” says Talley. “Each site teacher of the year representative is deserving and so qualified to represent Stillwater Public Schools.  I am excited to represent early childhood education and show how important it is to support our youngest learners.”

Following a January announcement of their titles, eleven SPS site Teachers of the Year submitted portfolios for review by a selection committee made up of former SPS Teachers of the Year, who identified these three finalists. Now teachers across the district will vote for the  candidate of their choice. The results, combined with an interview with three community members  will determine the Stillwater Public Schools District Teacher of the Year.  

“Out of more than 400 teachers in the district these three have really distinguished themselves,” says Superintendent Uwe Gordon, “Considering the outstanding teaching that I know goes on in the schools I have the honor to serve, that’s truly outstanding. It was touching to visit the teachers at work and see the reactions on their, their coworkers’, and their students’ faces. These three make a difference everyday, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Other SPS school site Teachers of the Year are: 

  • Highland Park Elementary- Leah Silver - Fourth Grade Math & Science
  • Richmond Elementary - Grace Anne Fath - Special Services
  • Skyline Elementary - Jennifer Crosthwait - Kindergarten
  • Westwood Elementary - Angela Edwards - Pre-K
  • Will Rogers Elementary - Tony Martin - Music
  • Middle School - Tracy Bell - Mathematics
  • High School - Elizabeth Ziegler - Theatre
  • Lincoln Academy - Shandi Treat - English Language Arts

The district winner will be announced this April and then have the opportunity to compete against teachers from across the state for the title of 2024-2025 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.


Barry Fuxa
[email protected]