More than 100 aspiring education students, P-12 educators, professional teacher education faculty, and education stakeholders participated in the 2024 Teach Oklahoma Conference on April 12 at Oklahoma City University.

Hosted by the State Regents’ Oklahoma Teacher Connection (OTC) program, the event featured remarks from Secretary of Education Nellie Tayloe Sanders and keynote speakers Rebecka Peterson, 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and 2023 National Teacher of the Year, and Sherri Coale, former University of Oklahoma women’s basketball coach and five-time Hall of Famer.

“Oklahoma’s education landscape is changing, and we must strengthen the teacher education pipeline,” said Chancellor Allison D. Garrett. “Through Teach Oklahoma and other focused initiatives, Oklahoma Teacher Connection serves secondary students, college students and new teachers to help meet the critical need for more teachers in Oklahoma classrooms.”

Conference attendees took part in collaborative and informative presentations and discussions, networked and received helpful resources to inform their current and future professional practice. A panel including Dr. Jennifer Burris, University of Central Oklahoma; Dr. Mike Harris, Randall University; Dr. Chris Keller, Cameron University; and Jess Tucker, State Regents office, discussed leadership styles, workplace engagement, and attracting new educators to the profession. Dr. Melissa Brevetti, coordinator of teacher education programs for the State Regents, served as panel moderator.

OTC’s mission is to recruit, retain and place teachers throughout Oklahoma’s K-12 schools. Since 1996, collaborative efforts by OTC and teacher education programs at Oklahoma universities have led to partnerships that help address teacher recruitment, retention and placement from a campus-based perspective and take advantage of the unique strengths of each institution.

Teach Oklahoma targets high school juniors and seniors who are interested in discovering more about the various aspects of education. Provided at no cost to districts, the Teach Oklahoma curriculum incorporates the study of teacher competencies with an internship component and offers learning objectives that lead to student growth and academic achievement.

The State Regents support several other initiatives designed to expand the teacher education pipeline, including the Inspired to Teach program. Inspired to Teach provides a scholarship for eligible students majoring in teacher education at an accredited educator preparation program (EPP) at an Oklahoma public or private university, or a student majoring in a pre-teacher education program at an Oklahoma community college that has an approved Inspired to Teach program articulation agreement with an accredited Oklahoma EPP.

Inspired to Teach scholarships for full-time students include $1,000 per year for up to three academic years and $2,500 in the final academic year. Following graduation, Inspired to Teach participants agree to teach in an Oklahoma public school (pre-K through 12th grade) for five consecutive years, a commitment that qualifies program participants to receive a $4,000 award for each year of satisfactory service up to five years, for a total of up to $20,000.

The State Regents also administer Lead Oklahoma and Educators Rising. Lead Oklahoma is a leadership class for eighth- and ninth-grade students with research-based curricula designed to increase overall academic achievement while exposing students to various careers, especially in teacher education. The program promotes college interest and success, focusing on leadership principles, participation in service-learning, and development of skills for lifelong success, including interpersonal communication, critical thinking and decision-making. Many schools use the Lead Oklahoma curriculum in leadership and teacher preparation academies.

Educators Rising, sponsored nationally by Phi Delta Kappa, is an extracurricular organization that provides high school students an opportunity to explore the teaching profession. A national organization with over 19,000 members, Educators Rising showcases various teaching fields and highlights teaching as a rewarding and distinguished career choice.

To learn more about our programs designed to strengthen the teacher education pipeline, visit