Carolyn Root a "weekend resident" of the Tenkiller Lake area, was recently named Teacher of the Year for the Sand Springs school district. Earlier this year she was named runner-up for the American Bar Association's Supreme Court Teacher of the Year. It is a state wide award for excellence in citizenship education.
Carolyn's classroom although part of the Sand Springs School System, is located behind the sixteen ft. fence of the L. E. Rader Juvenile Treatment Center. This is the first time a teacher in a correctional facility has ever been awarded such an honor.
Although they reside in Tulsa, Carolyn and her husband Mel consider Gore and Lake Tenkiller there "weekend home." They spend most of there free time aboard their sailboat at Pine Cove.
The students in her classroom can be considered the most violent and resistive in the State of Oklahoma. She teaches a variety of subjects including economics, American, Oklahoma, and World History, Speech and political Science.
Carolyn uses a self designed curiculum which makes her students want to learn. Her enthusiasm and hands-on projects hook the students on learning rather than drugs and violence. An example of her unique style is "Ralph" a full grown mounted coyote which serves as the class mascot and "assists" in teaching by wearing hats and costumes to introduce class units and events. The former students of Rader now attend college classes rather than sit in prison cells thanks to the combination of compassion and unique teaching styles used by the Rader Educational Staff.
"Academic, citizenship, and vocational skills are a necessity to become productive citizens. Students enter the Rader program feeling that education is a waste of time. They leave with a genuine feeling that they can be somebody!" said Carolyn.
Carolyn Root is one example of the thousands of Oklahoma teachers who make a difference in the lives of children everyday.
We go back so far that it would be impossible for me to mention all the special things I have seen from this truly unique individual. I was there through school when she slaved to learn how to do what she does so well. Over the years I have never known anyone who can manage their time the way she does. In spite of the demands that come with the profession she has chosen, she has never forgotten the special things in life that says she really cares about the people around her. Never has she missed a card on my birthday or Christmas or any other special occasion. For that matter it doesn't even have to be a special occasion. Through all the years she has listened to all my thoughts and been there when I have been at my lowest and highest with patience and a willingness to comfort when she could, guide me when necessary, and sometimes to say nothing at all. I have never in my life known anyone so true. It has been my privilege to know this kind of friendship in my life and I hope that in some small way I have returned at least some of the good deed she has done for me. Life is better by her very existence on earth and I thank God for sending her my way, but not only for me but for all the lives she touches.