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A high school calculus teacher whose focus on positive experiences happening in the classroom was named the 2023 National Teacher of the Year on Wednesday.

Rebecka Peterson, a math teacher at Union High School in Tulsa, is the first Oklahoma educator to receive the award since 1964. She’s been teaching for 14 years, the past 11 at Union, and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics.

Early in her career, she switched from teaching at the college level to high school — and the shock led her to start a blog called “One Good Thing,” where she and other math teachers post regular, positive updates.

As Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year, she has spent the past year visiting all 77 counties across the state to interview teachers making a difference in the classroom for her Teachers of Oklahoma campaign.

Her efforts to promote respect and appreciation for the teaching profession come at a time of low teacher morale in the face of lagging investment in public education, post-pandemic difficulties and hateful rhetoric directed at educators.

Rebecka Peterson (left) teaches calculus at Union High School. (Photo provided by CCSSO.)

Eleven of her former students have become teachers.

Congratulations for Peterson poured in Wednesday. Peterson is a proud immigrant of Swedish-Iranian descent and uses her experiences to connect with students.

As National Teacher of the Year, a contest organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers, she plans to use her platform to elevate the teaching profession nationwide.

What education news am I missing? Email me or send me a direct message.

— Jennifer Palmer

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