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Oklahoma Excel

Oklahoma Excel, which is part of the Champions of Excellence initiative, is a yearlong professional learning experience open to all K-12 teachers. Teachers within a district form teams and join a Networked Improvement Communities (NIC) within a specific content area. Members of the NIC engage in continuous improvement cycles in their classrooms to implement and refine high leverage, evidence-based instructional strategies. Teachers and teacher leaders who participate receive between 36 and 60 hours of job-embedded, sustained, data-driven, classroom focused professional development.  Participants also have access to on-site instructional coaching, resources and tools in an effort to bring about lasting improvement in their schools.  

      Watch our Quick Intro!



Meet the Team

Dawn Irons - Project Director

Dawn Irons recently moved into the Oklahoma State Department of Education's Office of Curriculum and Instruction as the Oklahoma Excel Director after serving in the Office of School Support and Improvement as a School Support Specialist. Prior to that, Dawn worked in Oklahoma City Public School's Professional Development Department as an instructional coach coordinator. Before moving to Oklahoma, Dawn spent ten years working as an elementary classroom teacher, peer evaluator and instructional coach in Tampa, Florida. Dawn holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in organizational leadership, instructional design and organizational training. Dawn resides in Oklahoma City with her husband and two dogs. 

Susan Wray- Science Instructional Specialist

Susan Wray is a twenty-six year veteran science teacher who is native to Oklahoma. Prior to working for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Susan taught elementary and middle-level science at Oakdale Public Schools from 1997-2019 and Broken Arrow Public Schools from 1992-1997. While at Oakdale, Susan was instrumental in implementing a STEM program, overseeing science curriculum and developing a spirit squad. Throughout the state, Susan has been a leader in science-- presenting at the Oklahoma Science Teacher Association conference, developing Frameworks for Science, and participating in Oklahoma science assessment development. She has dedicated herself to becoming a life-long educator, learner and leader.  

Gena Barnhill- Mathematics Instructional Specialist

Gena Barnhill has been teaching elementary math for 15 years. She spent 13 years developing her skills at Rollingwood Elementary in Putnam City and 2 more years at Lakeview Elementary in Yukon. During this time, she worked on district curriculum development and training, the Oklahoma state math frameworks, and the math and science OSTP Item Review Committee. She has also presented at state math and science conferences. She won the 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and achieved her National Board Certification in 2020. Gena graduated from the University of Oklahoma with her Bachelor's degree and the University of Central Oklahoma with her professional teaching certificate.  She currently lives in Yukon with her husband, two children, dogs and cat. 


Andrea Chrisman- ELA Instructional Specialist

Andrea Chrisman joined Teach for America in 20098 and moved to the Bay Area to begin her teaching career.  She spent 8 years teaching literacy at some of the highest performing schools in San Jose and San Francisco, working in predominantly underserved communities. She recently returned home to Oklahoma and has spent the last 2 years teaching reading on the south side of Oklahoma City. This past year she served her school as the 4th grade team lead and the ELA content lead. Andrea lives in Oklahoma city with her cat, Minnow, and when she isn't working, she enjoys reading thriller books, cooking, and listening to her records.                                                             

Go Deeper

To learn more about the foundational research that has shaped the vision of this project, explore the database below.

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Last updated on July 24, 2020