North Rock Creek Educator Named Olan Isbell Merit Award Winner

Paige Dan, elementary and intermediate library media specialist at North Rock Creek Elementary, is the winner of the Olan Isbell Merit Award presented by the Professional Oklahoma Educators Foundation.

The statewide honor was presented at the foundation’s Excellence in Education Awards banquet on April 30 in Oklahoma City.

In 1988, Professional Oklahoma Educators was founded by Olan Isbell of Bennington, Oklahoma. He served as the superintendent of Bennington Public Schools and was an outstanding educator and leader. This award is named in honor of the late Mr. Olan Isbell.

“From the time I was a small child, books have been a central part of my life,” Dan said. “I was raised by an English teacher mother who loved her children and reading dearly. My brother and I had a library that could have supplied a small village.”

During her time at North Rock Creek, Dan has put at least $4,000 in books into classrooms so that they can be enjoyed by a small group of students.

“With a background like mine it is clear why my mission in life is to spread the joy of reading and the empowerment of literacy to every child in my path,” Dan said. “I know that the ability to read opens every possible door for a child as she grows and gives her so many choices in life.”

Dan implemented and organized an Intermediate Buddies program at North Rock Creek to pair fifth and sixth grade students (mentors) with struggling kindergarten through second grade students (mentees) that need assistance in alphabet recognition, math facts and sight words.

“The program has not only been successful for the mentored students, but we have also seen positive changes in our mentees,” said Denise Smith, principal at North Rock Creek School.

Dan earned Master of Education in Library Media degree from Fort Hays State University in Kansas and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in leadership from the University of Central Oklahoma.

She is a member of Professional Oklahoma Educators, the Oklahoma Librarians Association and Oklahoma School Librarians. She is a nursery volunteer and vacation Bible school art leader at Prague First Baptist Church.

 The Excellence in Education Awards banquet recognizes and rewards Oklahoma educators who demonstrate a commitment to their students in teaching strength of character and excellence in the school or classroom. Award nominees must go through a rigorous application and evaluation process.

According to POE Foundation Executive Director Ginger Tinney, “These awards serve as an encouragement to not only Oklahoma educators, but also to the many businesses, organizations, and communities that have a stake in the character building and intellectual development of the children who will shape our state in the future.” 

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About POE Foundation: The Professional Oklahoma Educators Foundation is a nonprofit that serves as the charitable arm of Professional Oklahoma Educators. The Foundation serves as a support organization for POE and provides valuable educational training and services to teachers and students across the state. The POE Foundation is dedicated to promoting a world-class education for all Oklahoma students. 

About POE: Professional Oklahoma Educators is the fastest-growing education association in Oklahoma. POE is a non-union, nonpartisan professional association for all school personnel. POE members receive professional liability insurance, legal services, and lobbying representation. It is our commitment to these valuable services that make POE a positive and unmatched option for education employees in today’s teaching environment.

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