For over forty-one years, Jeannette Askins has invested her whole heart into her students, attending their extracurricular activities, tutoring those who needed extra help, and even serving as a lifelong mentor. She understood the importance of serving her students both inside and outside of the classroom. Her extraordinary dedication to them is being celebrated through her induction into the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation’s Educator Hall of Fame.
Askins’ own education started in a three-room schoolhouse called Norwood, near Hulbert, Oklahoma. She was the daughter of educators and a good student herself, but she did not plan to be a teacher. Despite pursuing several different areas of study, something kept pulling her into education. Thankfully, she stopped fighting her destiny and acknowledged that being a public school teacher was what she was supposed to do.
Her first job out of college was serving as a math tutor in Ardmore. After a year in her tutoring position, Ardmore administrators asked her to teach first grade. As soon as she had her first grade class, she knew that was where she was supposed to be.
After three years in Ardmore, Jeannette moved to Bartlesville where she was hired by Dan Brock to teach first grade at Hoover Elementary. Little did she know she would teach at Hoover for the next thirty-eight years. She spent most of those years as a first grade teacher, only moving to second grade when she looped with one of her first grade classes.
Askins is known for teaching students where they were at. She recognized that children benefit from different learning styles and she adjusted her teaching style accordingly. She would play games with her students to practice a concept or navigate state testing and dress up as characters to bring books to life. If a student did not do his homework, he could expect a surprise visit from Ms. Askins at his home to reestablish her expectations for him.
Part of her ability to connect with her students in the classroom was due to her investment in them outside of it. She would attend soccer matches, gymnastic meets, piano recitals, BMX riding events, baptisms, and even supported a few students in their bull riding and mutton riding competitions.
Askins was appreciated for more than just her efforts in the classroom. She dedicated time outside of the school day to tutor her own students and others in need. She got to know the students she tutored, learning about their interests and what motivated them. One of her students was motivated by Legos, and when she transported him to and from school and stayed after school to tutor him, she doled out Lego men as rewards for his efforts.
Towards the end of her career, when many teachers would have had one foot out the door, Ms. Askins deepened her commitment. She recognized that one of the second grade students was in particular need of direction and stability. She asked permission from his guardian to put him in soccer and provide support. She has mentored this student for the past seven years: taking him to and from soccer practice, covering the costs of uniforms, registration fees, and more. This former student is now in ninth grade, is an honors student, and plays competitive soccer.
Although Askins officially retired in May 2015, referring to her as a retired teacher isn’t completely accurate, as she still spends most of her time in the classroom. She admits she wasn’t ready to retire but wanted to leave the classroom well before anyone had to ask her to leave. So inevitably, she has found herself back in front of students as one of the most-requested substitutes, primarily serving as a long-term substitute.
When she is not working as a substitute, Askins continues to tutor students and serve as a mentor. Spending time with her husband, Bill, and two grown sons, Trevor and Brett. She still attends students’ extracurricular activities and enjoys watching sports — particularly any OSU sporting event.
The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation has been investing in students and staff members within the district since 1985. A $1,000 grant in Mrs. Askins’ name will be split between the first grade classes at Hoover Elementary and Wilson Elementary. The money generated by the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on March 31, 2022, will help fund the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation’s programs. Tickets are available on the Foundation’s website.