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With Oklahoma City teacher watching, President Barack Obama mentions Oklahoma's priority on early childhood education

Susan Bumgarner, who has been teaching prekindergarten students for 20 years, sits with first lady Michelle Obama in U.S. House gallery for president's speech
by Chris Casteel Published: February 13, 2013
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Susan Bumgarner was in a parent-teacher conference at Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School in Oklahoma City when her cellphone started ringing Friday.

Wanting to finish, the prekindergarten teacher ignored her phone. Then the phone on the wall started ringing. After she finished the conference, she found out the White House was calling to find experts on early education.

Bumgarner certainly qualifies. She has been teaching prekindergarten students for 20 years and has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Oklahoma in early education. She was recently nominated for Oklahoma City public schools teacher of the year.

On Tuesday, Bumgarner was among the guests of first lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union speech at the Capitol.

She said she's not sure why the White House picked her, but she knows Oklahoma was selected for its leadership in early education. The state offers prekindergarten to all public school students and requires classes be taught by people with degrees and certifications in early childhood education.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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