When Daniel Buckmaster was named the best Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher, he turned around to hug his wife,
She was on the stage with him Thursday night as one of nine Teacher of the Year finalists selected from nearly 2,000 teachers in the district.
“We're on the same team,” he said, “and I want to thank my teammate, my best friend and the love of my life.”
The Buckmasters and the seven other Teacher of the Year finalists were honored Thursday at an awards ceremony by the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
In his acceptance speech, Buckmaster thanked his teachers, who took the time to encourage and inspire a slow reader with middle-of-the-road test scores.
He said he hopes to give each of his students the same attention.
“My job is not to raise test scores but to raise up men and women above their circumstances,” said Buckmaster, who teaches sixth-grade science at Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School.
Buckmaster has taught more than 1,000 students in his seven years as an Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher. Regardless of test scores, each of those children has an incredible talent and passion waiting to be discovered, he said.
“We are lucky to have these OKC kids,” he said. “They're the best and their potential is unlimited.”
Superintendent Karl Springer said he appreciates Buckmaster's acceptance of his students.
“You can see that he loves being a teacher,” Springer said. “I'm just proud of him.”
Jamie Buckmaster said she's proud of her husband, who is also a youth pastor at Noble United Methodist Church. From the beginning, the couple encouraged one another and called themselves Team Buckmaster, she said. She also said she was a little relieved he won and she didn't.
“He's cut out for this,” she said, laughing. “I'm not. He's the best speaker I know.”
Jamie Buckmaster, who teaches English as a Second Language at Hillcrest Elementary, said the two of them have learned quite a bit about themselves as teachers throughout the selection process, which lasted more than six months. It also brought them even closer together.
“Iron sharpens iron,” she said. “We're better because of this.”
The Buckmasters joined seven other finalists from more than 60 individual schools for Teacher of the Year. The other finalists were Lt. Col. Paul Bianchi of John Marshall High School, DJ Bowker of Capitol Hill High School; Diana Dawson of Rockwood Elementary, Susan Good of Willow Brook Elementary, Cheryl Halaoui of Wilson Arts Integration, Justin Pourtorkan of Classen School of Advanced Studies, and Glen Woods of Wheeler Elementary.
Pourtorkan, who teaches orchestra, was named the first runner-up.
Dawson, a first-grade teacher, was named second runner-up.