The Oklahoma Council for the Social Studies (OCSS) recently named Edmond Memorial High School teachers Greg Oppel “High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year,” and Dalton Savage “Clara Luper Rising Star Teacher of the Year”- an award given to the most outstanding social studies educator in the state with less than five years of experience.

Oppel, a National Board Certified teacher and social studies department chair, has been at Edmond Memorial for 22 years. In that time, he has distinguished himself as a teacher leader and a student favorite. He teaches Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Advanced Placement Comparative.

“I enjoy helping students learn about the U.S. and its place in this world,” said Oppel. “It’s a matter of helping them to broaden their perspectives.”

Savage, who juggles his teaching and coaching duties with a master’s course load at OU, is noted for differentiating his instruction. He teaches Oklahoma History and Advanced Placement Human Geography.

“I enjoy giving students a choice in what they do. They may not be the best writer, but they may be great at presenting the material through infographics or other ways which shows me that they have learned it.”

Edmond Public Schools Social Studies Content Specialist Liz Rogers says what distinguishes both educators is their ability to reach students in new and innovative ways.

“Dalton actively engages students in inquiry, delving deeply into historical significance,” said Rogers. “And Greg consistently works to improve his teaching practices by building relevant and authentic lessons to engage students in civics.”

Oppel’s ability to reach students is borne out in a scrapbook he keeps in his classroom which is overflowing with cards and letters from former students who have written to explain how much they learned in his class. One of the most memorable letters came from a struggling reader who thanked him for teaching her how to write a better essay and how to study effectively so that she could be more successful in class. She went on to become a doctor.

“After a bad day, it helps to look over these letters. It reminds me of the importance of what I do.”

Oppel and Savage will receive their awards at the OCSS annual conference on Nov. 1.