Tim Willert
Local News Education Reporter

Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and city government for the community news division of the Los Angeles Times. Willert is a graduate of California State University Northridge.


  • Norman High School teacher is named Oklahoma's top educator

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Tue, Aug 25, 2015

    Norman High School's Shawn Sheehan wants to shine a spotlight on the teaching profession and its importance as the 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

  • Norman High School teacher is Oklahoma's best

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Tue, Aug 25, 2015

    Norman High School special education teacher Shawn Sheehan is the 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Sheehan edged Broken Arrow Public Schools elementary school teacher Amanda Bowser for the top spot in what state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said was a "very close" competition. Hofmeister announced the winner and runner-up Tuesday during a ceremony at State Fair Park that typically takes place in mid-September but was moved up because of construction. Sheehan, 29, teaches math to teenagers with learning disabilities. He is Norman Public Schools' teacher of the year. Hundreds of educators, including several past winners, were on hand for the ceremony. Five Oklahoma City metro-area teachers were among the

  • School leaders in Oklahoma are making painful decisions as teacher shortage grows more dire

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Mon, Aug 24, 2015

    A survey of school districts by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association found that 1,000 teaching vacancies remain even after 600 teaching jobs were eliminated since the 2014-15 school year. Also alarming is the number of emergency teaching certificates school districts are requesting.

  • Survey: Teacher shortage hitting Oklahoma schools hard

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Mon, Aug 24, 2015

    The state's teacher shortage has hit an extraordinary level, leaving thousands of students in overcrowded classrooms, without fully qualified teachers and with fewer course options, according to a new survey from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. School districts are actively trying to fill about 1,000 open teaching positions, have eliminated about 600 teaching jobs since the 2014-15 school year — despite growing enrollment — and are requesting a record number of emergency teaching certificates. Last year, the state granted 500 emergency teacher certificates to fill vacancies. Last month, the state issued 182 and, on Thursday, the state Board of Education will consider 482 addition requests for emergency

  • Oklahoma City school district proposes to expand aptitude tests for students

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    The Oklahoma City Board of Education will be asked at its Aug. 31 meeting to approve expanding an already-existing aptitude testing program for high school underclassmen to earlier grades. If the board approves, the district will spend about $77,500 to test about 8,500 students this year.

  • Oklahoma City district to offer school engagement workshops

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Sat, Aug 22, 2015

    Free professional development workshops will be offered by Oklahoma City Public Schools on Saturdays starting in September to get parents more involved in their kids' education.

  • Business, community groups form compact to help Oklahoma City Schools

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    The partnership, known as the Oklahoma City Schools Compact, will include the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

  • Axle falls off OKC district school bus

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    A school bus carrying seven students to John Marshall Mid-High School on Friday morning lost its rear axle near the intersection of N May Avenue and NW 63, a Oklahoma City school district spokesman said. No students were injured, but the driver of the bus complained of knee pain and was taken to a hospital, spokesman Mark Myers said in a statement.  A U-Bolt on the rear axle likely failed and caused the 7:30 a.m. incident, Myers said. The bus has been a part of the fleet since December 2014 and was current on service, according to the district. It was involved in a collision in January and repairs were made by a vendor, Myers said. District staff, the bus dealership and the manufacturer are working together to

  • Moore, Mid-Del school districts welcome students to first day of classes

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    Wednesday was the first day of school for the Moore and Mid-Del districts, The Moore district has two new schools, and Mid-Del welcomes a new superintendent.

  • Oklahoma program offers high school juniors free access to ACT

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    The Oklahoma Education Department will spend $1.5 million from funds already allocated for testing to pay for the program, which gives every public school district the opportunity to provide the ACT test at schools in the upcoming year.

  • State Education Department will pay for Oklahoma juniors to take ACT

    BY TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    The state Education Department will pick up the $1.5 million tab for every public high school junior in Oklahoma to take the ACT college-preparatory test this spring. The pilot program will give the opportunity to take the ACT college prep test to as many 22,000 juniors who otherwise might not have taken it.

  • Sister of teacher killed in 2014 wreck will teach in Guthrie

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    Ashley Wilson is the younger sister of Heather Wilson, one of two Guthrie Junior High School English teachers killed in a car crash nearly 10 months ago. Heather Wilson and fellow first-year teacher Jennifer Briggs died Oct. 27 in a two-vehicle accident while carpooling to work from Stillwater, Oklahoma.

  • Oklahoma City school district begins discipline intervention training

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Sun, Aug 16, 2015

    Oklahoma City Public Schools is attempting to dig out from under one of the nation's highest suspension rates amid an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights division.

  • OKC students get real-life experience from work academies

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Sat, Aug 15, 2015

    Students attending Oklahoma City's high schools are getting a head start over other area peers when it comes to thinking about their futures. Oklahoma City Public Schools offers a variety of different career academies that give students a chance to shadow professionals and work within the careers they would like to pursue as adults.

  • Bond issue would put storm shelters in all Moore district schools

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Fri, Aug 14, 2015

    Voters in the Moore, Oklahoma, school district will be asked in October to approve a $209 million bond issue that would be used to fund the construction of storm shelters in nearly two dozen schools.

  • Oklahoma City school district names chief operations officer

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Published: Wed, Aug 12, 2015

    The Oklahoma City School Board named Tim Stiger as its new chief operations officer Monday night. Stiger comes from Edmond Public Schools and replaces Rod McKinley who resigned in January.

  • Oklahoma City school district approves emergency plan

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Tue, Aug 11, 2015

    Oklahoma City Public Schools said Monday that it has updated and modernized its emergency operations plan, modeling it after Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines.

  • OKC school district hires new chief operating officer

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Tue, Aug 11, 2015

    Oklahoma City Public Schools finally has a new chief operations officer. The school board voted Monday night to approve the selection of Tim Stiger as COO. Stiger replaces Rod McKinley, who abruptly resigned in January. Stiger formerly served as director of plant operations for Edmond Public Schools. In his new role, Stiger will oversee facility management, transportation, custodial operations, grounds, fleet management, child nutrition services and maintenance. "I am extremely honored and and humbled to have the opportunity to work with Oklahoma City Public Schools, Superintendent Neu and the entire operations staff," Stiger said in a statement.

  • South Oklahoma City charter school still isn't ready for first bell

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Tue, Aug 11, 2015

    Lighthouse Academies classrooms were not ready, so the new charter school on Oklahoma City's south side was forced to delay its opening until at least the end of the month.

  • Positive Tomorrows school in Oklahoma City starts with basics

    By TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@oklahoman.com | Updated: Sat, Aug 8, 2015

    Positive Tomorrows is a privately funded elementary school for about 50 homeless children in Oklahoma City. All have social, emotional and academic issues not typically addressed by traditional public schools. "The first thing that we work to provide is a safe, secure, calm, peaceful school environment," said Susan Agel, school president. "We make sure everybody gets here. We take care of basic necessities like food and clothing ... you can't learn if you're hungry in the morning."





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