Foundation to Honor Outstanding Educators, Students at 37th Academic Awards Celebration

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 37th annual Academic Awards Celebration at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Cox Business Convention Center in Tulsa.

The gala banquet, which has been described as the “Academy Awards of public education in Oklahoma,” will feature a keynote address by Sheryl WuDunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, best-selling author and business executive. Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustee and banquet chairman Kyden Creekpaum will serve as the emcee for the evening ceremony honoring “the best of the best” in Oklahoma’s public schools. He is the first Academic All-State alumnus to host the event. The banquet will also feature musical entertainment by the Tulsa Youth Symphony.

Banquet admission is $65 per person. Reservations can be made online at The ceremony will be broadcast statewide on OETA public television at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 27, and 10 a.m. Sunday, May 28. It can also be viewed on the foundation website at

“The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Academic Awards Program is Oklahoma’s premiere awards program honoring academic achievement, innovation and leadership among students and educators in our public schools,” said Elizabeth Inbody, executive director of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “By working together to give outstanding students and educators the recognition they deserve, we send a message that we value their accomplishments and dedication, and we inspire others to strive for excellence. I hope everyone will make reservations and plan to join us for this exciting celebration.”

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 bestowed more than $5.4 million in awards to honor outstanding graduating seniors as Academic All-Staters and exceptional educators as Medal for Excellence winners.

The foundation will present its 2023 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence Award in Elementary Teaching to Barbie Jackson, a STEM teacher at Limestone Technology Academy in Sand Springs; in Secondary Teaching to Jason Paris, a fine arts teacher at Cherokee Junior High and High School; in Elementary/Secondary Administration to Kyle Reynolds, superintendent of Woodward Public Schools; in Regional University/Community College Teaching to Dr. Alissa Proctor, professor of optometry at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah; and in Research University Teaching to Dr. F. Bailey Norwood, professor of agribusiness at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

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, honor cords and merit-based Academic All-State Awards of $1,500 to 100 Academic All-State Scholars.

The 2023 Academic All-State class hails from 75 schools in 68 Oklahoma school districts. The honorees were selected from hundreds of nominations in what is described by Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence President Andrew Morris as “Oklahoma’s most rigorous academic awards selection process.”  Two schools are celebrating their first Academic All-Staters this year: Pittsburg and Texhoma 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. 

Academic All-Stater Brycen Ward of Kingston High School displays a pennant, honor cord and other congratulatory items he received from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. The foundation mailed boxes to each Academic All-Stater in February announcing their selection for the prestigious award.