Duncan Fugitt, a high-school STEM teacher at Edmond North High School and a product of Edmond Schools who decided to forgo an engineering career to inspire future generations, has been named the Edmond Teacher of the Year.
Superintendent Bret Towne made the announcement on March 11 during the district’s Celebration of Excellence event sponsored by the Edmond Public Schools Foundation.
“Duncan Fugitt displays enthusiasm for his craft and his students,” Towne said. “He cares deeply about his students’ success and additionally has a deep commitment to ensure that young women, minorities and other marginalized students have every opportunity to learn and succeed in the physical sciences.”
Fugitt has been a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teacher since he began with the district in 2015. He has also worked with the boys’ tennis team since he started and is now the head coach.
“Teaching is the only vocation upon which all other vocations rely,” Fugitt said, who questioned whether he wanted to become a teacher or an engineer.
He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2013, with a degree in civil engineering.
“I continued to come back to the belief that this profession is a powerful and profound way to influence students,” Fugitt said.
Giving students real-life experiences is something Fugitt instills within his classroom curriculum. He has given students assignments varying from designing a wallet, to recently challenging them to collect data and determine where WiFi boosters should be placed at Edmond North.
“Upon walking into Duncan’s classroom you immediately feel the enthusiasm and expectation for student learning,” said Debreon Davis, principal at Edmond North High School.
Fugitt is an emergency certified teacher who pushed himself to demonstrate to his peers that, “your life does not always have to take a traditional path.”
Being a life-long learner is one of his greatest responsibilities to the students, he said. His goal is to ensure that students are prepared to be successful in a changing society.
Fugitt has helped develop the first STEM course at Edmond North along with serving in state and national organizations for science teachers.
“I want students to get their hands dirty, try to design or build something real, and test it in a way that challenges their understanding,” he said.
“There is a deeply personal reward that comes along with this profession,” Fugitt said.
Outside of the classroom, Fugitt has led the Edmond North boys tennis team to multiple state championships and often attends his students’ extracurricular activities on nights and weekends.
“Duncan has built lifelong relationships with his students because he understands the importance of taking time to invest in their lives outside of school,” Davis said.
Volunteerism also shapes his life. He has participated in tennis clinics for youth with down syndrome and serves in his church.
“The passion that people have for this profession has kept me here,” Fugitt said.
Heritage Teacher Named Rookie Teacher of the Year
Also at the Celebration of Excellence Event Hanna Pavao, a special education teacher at Heritage Elementary, was named the first-ever Rookie Teacher of the Year, an award conceived and funded by Superintendent Bret Towne and his wife Nancy to encourage first-year teachers.
“I could not be more thankful for this path that I have chosen,” Pavao said.
During the last year, she helped a fellow teacher who was out with an illness. Additionally, she is active in her community volunteering at the Regional Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.
Edmond Memorial High School Employee Named 2021-2022 Support Employee of the Year
Cindy Bickford, a support staff member at the Edmond Memorial Freshman Academy who has been there since the academy was opened, has been named the 2021 Edmond Support Employee of the Year.
“I am lucky to be at a place I love,” Bickford said. “I am there to truly help students.”
Rarely missing a day at work, Bickford is the only person who works the front desk at the Freshman Academy and greets everybody with what her co-workers call a “ray of sunshine.”
“Cindy is a ray of sunshine at Edmond Memorial,” said Edmond Memorial Teacher Rachel Crabaugh. “She greets everyone with a smile no matter what, which is beyond tough to do with all the craziness going on this year.”
Bickford has worked for the district for 22 years and said it has been a joy to impact thousands of students.
Having several student office aides help her each day, Bickford has become a role model for them and pushes them to strive for excellence in their lives.
“She develops relationships with these students right away and helps them with all different tasks throughout the semester, always guiding them in the right direction,” said Brandi Wheeler, an Assistant Principal at the Edmond Memorial Freshman Academy.
Her dedication to the students continues outside of the Freshman Academy when she supports students at athletic events, fine art shows and other activities.
“From the moment I walked in the door at EMHS for my first day of work to today Cindy has been a shining light,” said Dalton Savage, the Edmond Memorial Oklahoma History Teacher.
Even as teachers and principals have moved around in the district, Bickford has become known as a “rock” within Freshman Academy for her wisdom and knowledge on the inner workings.
“Everyone at Memorial High School is doing great work and it is an honor to be appreciated by my peers,” she said.