Foundation to Honor State's Top Educators, Students at 36th Academic Awards Celebration May 21 in Oklahoma City

Five outstanding Oklahoma educators will be honored along with 100 of the state’s top public high school seniors when the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence hosts its 36th annual Academic Awards Celebration at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Omni Oklahoma City Hotel, 100 Oklahoma City Blvd.

The gala banquet, which has been described as the “Academy Awards of public education in Oklahoma,” will feature a keynote address by violinist and arts education advocate Vijay Gupta. Gupta is the founder and artistic director of Street Symphony, a nonprofit organization providing musical engagement, dialogue and teaching artistry for homeless and incarcerated communities in Los Angeles. Former Tulsa television news anchor Scott Thompson – an Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustee – will serve as the emcee for the evening ceremony honoring “the best of the best” in Oklahoma’s public schools.

The event will also feature musical entertainment by the Oklahoma Arts Institute Orchestra. Admission is $65 per person. Reservations are limited and can be made online at The ceremony will be broadcast statewide on OETA public television at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28, and at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 29.

“The Academic Awards Banquet is an inspiring, entertaining and important event celebrating exceptional student leaders and educators in our public schools,” said Banquet Chair Dayna Rowe, an Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustee from Yukon and executive director of external affairs for Redlands Community College. “We are excited to be able to host our first full-scale, in-person event in three years and to gather in a beautiful new venue to roll out the red carpet for our honorees. Top it off with an inspiring keynote address by Vijay Gupta, and you have a very memorable evening. I hope everyone will make reservations and plan to join us!”

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a nonprofit, charitable organization founded in 1985 by then-U.S. Sen. David Boren to recognize and encourage academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Through its Academic Awards Program, the foundation has awarded more than $5.1 million in merit-based scholarships and cash awards to honor outstanding graduating seniors as Academic All-Staters and exceptional educators as Medal for Excellence winners.

The foundation will present its 2022 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence Award in Elementary Teaching to Lori Zimmerman, a reading teacher at Shattuck Middle School; in Secondary Teaching to Elaine Hutchison, a math teacher at Fairview High School; in Elementary/Secondary Administration to Scott Allen, principal of Monroe Elementary School in Enid; in Regional University/Community College Teaching to Elise McCauley, professor of speech at Redlands Community College, El Reno; and in Research University Teaching to Dr. K. K. “Muralee” Muraleetharan, professor of civil engineering and environmental science at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Each Medal for Excellence recipient receives a $5,000 cash award as well as a glass “Roots and Wings” sculpture. With support from scholarship sponsors, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence will also present medallions and merit-based Academic All-State Scholarships of $1,000 to 100 Academic All-State Scholars.

The 2022 Academic All-State class hails from 75 schools in 67 Oklahoma school districts. The honorees were selected from 397 nominations in what is described by Boren as “Oklahoma’s most rigorous academic awards selection process.”  Three high schools will celebrate their first Academic All-Stater: Heavener, Le Flore, and North Rock Creek high schools.

For more information on the Academic Awards Program and this year’s honorees, visit the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence website at or call (405) 236-0006.

Longtime Tulsa TV Anchor Scott Thompson to Emcee Academic Awards Banquet

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Trustee Scott Thompson, an Emmy Award-winning television journalist, will serve as emcee of the foundation’s Academic Awards Banquet on Saturday, May 21, at the Omni Oklahoma City Hotel. The ceremony will be broadcast at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28, and at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 29, on OETA Public Television.