EDMOND — Being named teacher of the year out of a district of almost l,500 teachers is an honor that left Edmond Memorial High School freshman English instructor Elanna Killackey in awe.
The distinction was given to her at the Edmond Public Schools Foundation banquet this month at Oak Tree Country Club.
“I'm still a bit in shock,” she said a week later. “All the teachers, including the finalists, are so deserving.”
She took another bow last week at the Edmond School Board meeting along with the other site teachers of the year.
She’s been honored by people including Edmond Schools Superintendent David Goin.
“Elanna Killackey demonstrates passion, professionalism and purpose in her teaching,” he said. “Her devotion to her students is uncompromised.”
Killackey said teaching is a calling she sensed at a young age.
“For me, this doesn’t seem like work,” said the teacher, who graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2002.
Her mission is to get students to think for themselves.
“She lets us come up with the answers on our own and creates a great environment for learning,” said Hannah Beck, one of Killackey’s students.
Education is a vital mission, Killackey said. She proved it in her own life, she said. Her mother, Delilah Sanderson, wanted a private education for her daughter, but the logistics of doing that while living in Okarche proved to be a challenge.
Before she got her driver’s license, there was a routine. She woke up at 4:30 a.m., took a bus to Mercy in northwest Oklahoma City, then another bus to the central Oklahoma City area, then walked nearly a mile to Grace Christian Academy.
Her mom would usually pick her up after school.
And then there were after-school sports.
“There were days I wouldn't get home until after 10 or 11,” she said.
“I got there one morning and nobody was there,” Killackey said. “After a while, the principal showed up and told me school had been canceled due to a snow day.”
Killackey’s teaching career started at Putnam City North and continued in the Mustang district. She then took some time off to have children with her husband Ragan, also a teacher at Edmond Memorial. The couple have two children, a son, Darby Holden, 7, and daughter, Erin Scout, 6.
Literature is such a part of Killackey’s life that Darby’s middle name, Holden, is from a character in the novel “Catcher in the Rye.” Her daughter’s middle name is a character in the book, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
When Killackey went back to teaching, she was teaching computer skills to health professionals at Mercy, but she knew her career needed adjustment.
“I found out I was better teaching children,” she said.
She compares her profession to her own experience in child rearing. At first, a child relies on the parent for all aspects of feeding. Gradually, they learn how to feed themselves, and eventually, can do it in a neat manner.
“That’s what I want from my students,” she said. “I want them to succeed no matter how many times they fail. This isn’t baseball.”