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Jessica Eschbach, Teacher of the Year

A Passion for Learning Leads to Success in Education

Jessica Eschbach grew up in Salem, New Hampshire, but as the first college graduate in her family, her contributions to education would be felt by hundreds of students and colleagues halfway across the country. Throughout her impactful tenure, Eschbach has served as a passionate educator in the Norman Public School system, earned a graduate degree - another is in process at East Central University - and connected numerous teachers and students to educational opportunities. Recently, Eschbach was named Oklahoma’s 2021 Teacher of the Year by a panel of educators, legislators, and members of business and nonprofit organizations, and she looks forward to continuing her service of bringing quality education, technology and collaboration to students and teachers across the state.

“My first thought was ‘they must have miscounted the votes’,” Eschbach remembers as her name was called in the virtual ceremony in early March. “After getting over the shock, I was honored to represent my district and be in the company of all the valuable teachers who’ve gone above and beyond in the crazy time created by this pandemic. I look forward to advancing education and success in this state.”

As Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year, Eschbach will assume full-time duties on July 1 of this year. She will serve as the state’s ambassador for teachers, encouraging others to enter and remain in the profession and participating in speaking engagements throughout the year.

Before Eschbach takes on her Teacher of the Year role, she’s working to finish a second graduate degree from ECU in May. The degree will focus on educational leadership. The online format is what attracted her to the university, and it’s been the perfect program to let her combine her roles as a professional and a mother to her two small children. From the subject matter to the timing of classes to her relationships with professors, everything has seemed appropriate and “meant to be,” Eschbach said.

“I enrolled at the beginning of the pandemic thinking I’d have more time since kids were having to stay home from school,” Eschbach said with a chuckle, realizing now how wrong she was.

“My professors have been flexible and encouraging throughout my education. My experience at ECU has been exceptional even during this unexpected time, and I look forward to helping and educating others.”

After her Teacher of the Year tenure, Eschbach hopes to use what she’s learned to help more teachers continue to innovate and be positive, creative role models for kids. During this year of unconventional education, she’s seen teachers quickly adapt, rework and relearn methods that reach kids and allow them to find their voices.

“Teachers are superheroes,” Eschbach said. “They know how to collaborate and work in the trenches with each other to give their students the most opportunities and best futures they can. I’m fortunate to learn more at ECU about how to best lead those heroes as well as be one myself.”


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