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(Not just a) Coach Carter

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KPS teacher of the year has as much passion in classroom as on the field

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    WYATT CARTER is pictured above taking the KHS baseball team through infi eld at the 4A state tournament last season. On the right, he’s pictured with KPS Superintendent Jason Sternberger after being named the teacher of the year for the entire district.

During his senior year of high school, Wyatt Carter was on a mission during the fi nal day of the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Tournament.

His hometown Okarche girls basketball team was taking on Piedmont in the 2013 tournament championship at the APB.

Piedmont brought a raucous student section, so Carter led a group from Okarche that was trying to match that intensity and exuberance.

That included wearing various costumes and on that day, Carter was dressed as a fl ip phone.

During a timeout, the catchy single “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen hit the APB speakers.

Carter stepped onto the edge of the court and – again, dressed as a cell phone – broke into an improvised dance and lip sync routine, all directed toward the Piedmont student section.

“They had a pretty decent student section, so I wanted to show them ours was better,” Carter recalls.

But his actions had a dual purpose.

A certain female Piedmont co-ed was among those in that opposing student section.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was kind of trying to impress her,” Carter said.

The “display panel” on Carter’s phone/costume was complete with the words: “Call me, maybe?”

“I loved doing that stuff,” Carter said. “Entertaining people and not being afraid to make a fool of myself.”

It’s unclear if Kimberly Gibson called Carter that night, but she did eventually marry him.

Carter’s atypical approach to riling up his fan base or impressing a girl has carried over into his profession.

And, in part due to his outside-the-box actions, Carter was just voted by his peers at the Kingfisher Public School District Teacher of the Year.

Carter was announced as the winner last Monday during a professional development day that included the entire KPS staff.

“He’s a very bright and inspiring young man,” said Superintendent Jason Sternberger of Carter.

“We are so fortunate to have him teaching our kids.”

Carter is in his second year teaching American History at the high school. He’s also an assistant softball and baseball coach.

He was one of four teachers of the year chosen earlier this school year at Kingfisher’s campuses. Other winners were Becky Hart at Gilmour Elementary, Melody Kuehn at Heritage and Amanda Matthews at the middle school.

In just a short time, Carter has endeared himself to students and peers alike.

“I love working with him,” said Audra Smalley, a fellow softball assistant coach who teaches U.S. government, world history and economics at KHS. “He’s very passionate about making the softball program be the best it can be. He also has brought a new energy to our end of the social studies hallway.

“The kids are excited to see what crazy assignment Coach Carter has in store today. His energy and excitement are contagious.”

Carter said building relationships is important to him.

“I think what makes it easier to have such good relationships with everyone is just being fully invested. Relationships with coaches, teachers, players and people in the community really bring joy to my life,” he said. “I think when people see my passion in the classroom, on the field or in life, it shows them that, whatever it is, you can count on me to fully go for it.”

That unconventional approach Carter took to impress a Piedmont girl at a basketball game is also one he takes into teaching in his history classroom.

He’s rapped in class, does impressions and uses different accents. He’s used 3-D PowerPoint presentations where students wear 3-D glasses at their desk.

He’s got a “Twitter board” on his door so others can see what they’re doing in class.

When there are class projects, he hangs up the finished products in the hallway for all to see “and the kids have something that they can be proud of in front of everyone.”

He’s also started the History Club at KHS.

It’s all a part of his planned approach to teach his subject, even if it’s not always a typical one.

“I want to break the common idea that history is boring and one way I feel like I do that in my classroom is just being passionate about the topic,” he said. “It really makes a difference when the kids see how much I enjoy what I am doing.

“Also one of my favorite things to do in the class is to try new things that are so different and fun. I really don’t care if I make a fool of myself in the classroom.”

KHS Principal Todd Overstreet said Carter’s ways have worked.

“Wyatt is a great young teacher. He works really hard and definitely has a unique talent when it comes to connecting with students,” Overstreet said. “He is not afraid to step ‘out of the box’ in order to pique students’ interests.”

Carter is the son of Dean and Wendi Carter of Okarche.

His father is the marketing manager for Pioneer Telephone and his mother is one of his peers as she’s the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at KHS.

“From being in the same building together teaching, and to see his creativity with his lessons and his ability to connect and impact his students, has been inspiring to me as a veteran teacher and as his mother,” Wendi said.

“I would like to take credit for part of his success, but he has taken the reins from day one and never looked back. I’m so very honored to be his co-worker.”

Diversely talented like his parents, Carter could have chosen multiple career paths. He’s confident he picked the correct one.

“I feel like I completely made the right decision to get into education,” he said.

Carter played baseball collegiately at Northwestern Oklahoma State University until his throwing shoulder told him it was time to call it quits.

His continued love of sports carries over into his coaching.

“Coach Carter is the kind of coach that you love to have in your program. He genuinely cares about the kids and it shows,” Smalley said. “He balances being that cool guy to hang around with being that tough disciplinarian that garners respect from his players.

“He is the kind of coach that, when you look back at your high school experience, you will say, ‘That guy was awesome and made such a difference in my life.’”

However, Carter said he doesn’t allow the coaching aspect of his job to overshadow his teaching.

“When I chose the education field, there was always one thing that I have promised myself and others: To be a teacher who coaches, not a coach who teaches,” he said.

“I have always hated the idea of this stereotype on coaches in the classroom and to receive this award really makes me feel full of gratitude to everyone who thought I was deserving.”

And whether he’s in the classroom or on the fi eld, Carter displays a sense of energy and life he hopes everyone recognizes.

“I want my passion for whatever it may be to be contagious,” he said. “Find something you love and go for it.”

The top teachers at the district’s other three campuses include:

Melody Kuehn, Kingfisher Heritage School.

Amanda Matthews, Kingfisher Middle School.

Becky Hart, Gilmour Elementary School.

All four top teachers are recognized in a full-page ad on Page 11, sponsored by Cimarron Electric Cooperative.