The ongoing failure of Oklahoma lawmakers to pass a revenue package with a meaningful increase to education funding hasn’t stopped Bartlesville’s support for teachers.
Approximately 300 public education advocates, residents and teachers packed the Bartlesville Community Center Thursday morning to recognize three local educators who have helped shape the lives of students.
During a breakfast ceremony, Diane Dixon, Gerald Thompson and the late Carol Ann Cone were inducted in the Bartlesville Public School Foundation’s Educator Hall of Fame.
The esteemed trio represents the ninth hall of fame class who has made a positive impact within the Bartlesville Public School District. They were recognized by a crowd of former students, colleagues and family members, and each recipient received a $1,000 grant, which will go to a school or department of their choice.
Carol Ann Cone
Carol Ann Cone, who died in 2017, was lovingly remembered as a teacher who brought out the best in students. After earning her degree at Oklahoma State University in 1962, Cone began teaching first grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. She taught for three years and then took a break from teaching to help raise a family with her husband, Don.
While accepting the honor for his late wife, he described how she cherished children.
“She understood kids more than I did,” said Cone. “She really loved kids and helped me a lot as a parent. I’m sort of cut and dry and she understood kids so much.”
When Cone returned to teaching in 1981, she worked with older elementary students at the Highland Park, Jane Phillips, and Wayside schools.
“She always taught what to do instead of what not to do,” reflected Don Cone. “It worked with our kids and it worked with students in school.”
Cone taught elementary school students in Bartlesville for 22 years at four different schools, retiring in 2000. She and Don traveled extensively, but that couldn’t keep her away from the classroom, spending another nine years teaching elementary math methods at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and then nine more years as a substitute teacher in the district’s elementary schools.
Regarded as a mentor and role model to dozens of students and colleagues, Diane Dixon began her teaching career at Lincoln Elementary, but soon leapt at an opportunity to teach gifted and talented students at different district schools.
Over the years in her own classroom or when rotating among sites, she was inspired by former administrator Bill Beierschmitt to make her students’ weekly two hours with her a “peak experience.”
She had centers for the students to keep them engaged and learning, having them master a skill, make it their own, and then pass it along to others. She also spent a decade helping conduct a summer program at Camp Wah-Sha-She, where she admits an electric pickle experiment once blew out an air conditioner.
The renowned teacher of gifted and talented elementary school students earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Louisiana State University. She said her achievements were possible through the students she had and teachers she worked with.
“The students were so good to me that I learned so much from them,” said Dixon.
Gerald Thompson’s interest in teaching was sparked in Leroy Coke’s algebra class at Col-High. Coke’s way of relating to all of his students and presenting the subject matter left a big impression. After graduating from high school, Thompson earned an associate’s degree at Coffeyville Community College and then earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central State University.
Thompson is fondly remembered for his inclusiveness in the classroom and showing an interest in all students.
“Some of my greatest joys still today are being in the classroom,” said Thompson.
He taught at five different public schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in his first eight years of teaching, encountering tremendous diversity across southeast Oklahoma City and both west and east Tulsa before becoming a beloved teacher at Central Middle School for 27 years.
He stressed how important it is for teachers to show students that they care, both about their curriculum and the students themselves. Thompson helped coach the girls basketball teams until 2003, and then began helping coach the boys teams in 2006, something he continues to do to this day, years after his retirement from the classroom in 2014.
The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation has been investing in students and staff members within the district since 1985. Over the decades, the non-profit organization has funded more than $2 million in creative projects outside of the traditional state, local and federal sources to support state-of-the-art instruction. The money generated by the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies helps to fund the organization’s programs.