By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Amy Huster was heavily influenced by her educators growing up in Ponca City Schools, an effect that would aid her choice to become an early childhood educator. She has taught at many elementary schools across the county, and after more than 20 years, that dedication has paid off, as she has been chosen as the Newkirk Elementary School’s (NES) Teacher of the Year for 2021 – 2022.
It is a hectic day just after 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 7, with students filing down the hallways to the cafeteria during lunch break. Huster takes time out of her own lunch period to talk about the honor, the first she has received in her decades-long career.
“I am honored because there are so many great teachers in my building, so it is an honor to be chosen by them,” she said.
Huster was raised in Ponca City, and from an early age, she had a connection with education due to a single teacher that made an impact on her life.
“When I was young, I had a teacher that highly influenced me in elementary, so ever since that time, I wanted to be an elementary teacher,” she said.
She graduated Ponca City High School in 1988, and pursued education at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, in 1992.
She soon found work in Ponca City at Garfield Elementary School, and in the ensuing years has taught grades second – sixth in Ponca City, Newkirk, Blackwell and Tonkawa.
As a teacher for more than 20 years, she has seen many students grow into adulthood, and has kept in contact with them since.
“It’s been really rewarding seeing the kids grow up and raise families of their own,” Huster said. “I see kids all the time that’ll come back. I’m still in contact on Facebook with some of them, and I see their faces, and their kids.”
Huster has her own family. She married husband Mark in 1996, and they have two children, Heath and Haiden, although she has not taught them in the classroom.
“I never had my kids in class, but it was very good having them in the same system as me, just so I could be involved as I need too be,” she said.
Those in her classroom however, revere Huster for the teacher that she is.
“She’s nice,” Corbin Butler said. “Math is my favorite subject, because math is easy.”
Gracynn Smykil added, “She helps us whenever we need help, on paper or Google Classroom assignments. I love how she helps whenever you need it, she’s always there when you need it.”
Regardless of who is in the classroom, it is the pupils sitting behind the desks she is seeking to influence in her own right, fostering a love of learning in those who are the youngest.
“I think that kids need to have a value of education at a young age,” she said. “Sometimes, if they don’t have a good experience in education, they will hate school for life.”