ROCET events a big success, giving Ottawa County educators and support staff a strong boost of encouragement and support entering into the new school year.

MIAMI – In a show of abundant support the community came together through ROCET (Recognizing Ottawa County Educators and Teachers) to give 750 Ottawa County teachers, administrators and support staff a super start to the new school year.

Teachers and support staff from all schools in Ottawa County, Miami, Fairland, Commerce, Wyandotte, Quapaw, and Afton were invited to attend one of two all day events consisting of keynote speakers and interactive workshops for professional development and support. 75 volunteers helped the ROCET committee pull off the successful events.

“We were really excited,” ROCET organizer and founder Tracie DeLano said. “ I think it was a huge success and I am really excited for a first-time event to have so many people embrace it. We got a lot of positive feedback from the speakers and about the fun aspects of the day, and we had some lovely lunches. Overall I think it was great. Hopefully, it will start their year off in a good way.”

Keynote speakers for the Miami event were the Search Institute's Vice President of Research and Development Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Senior Managing Director of Targeted Services Investment Committee and Bernstein Global Wealth Management Deacon Turner a 1987 MHS Alumnus.

“It was really cool to have Deacon Turner graduate and come back and talk about the difference teachers made in his life," DeLano said. “They absolutely changed his life story.”

Workshops were presented by TSET Healthy Living Program Coordinators for Ottawa County, Pat Hecksher and Adrian Arnold; University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center's Dr. Paulette Pitt and Kelly Curran, MD; Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma Manager of Training and Organizational Development, Edie Ingram; Oklahoma State Health Department Health Educators Lindsey Sarver and Greg McCann; Healthy Living School Specialist, Rhoda Strode and Child Trauma Specialist Kimberly Fielding.

Workshop topics covered wellness, TSET, sports nutrition, stress management, fitness in the classroom, student resilience building, trauma care, and student asset development

A delicious meal, snacks, individual gift sacks, and resource booths rounded out the special event, a way of proving to area educators the community is appreciative of their efforts and dedication to students.

DeLano said each participant’s gift sack included a personal, handwritten note from area church members committing to praying for the educator by name throughout the school year.

Participants could also take a break during the day to watch ‘Rich Hill,’ the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winning film for Best Documentary. The film follows three teenage boys as they struggle with isolation, broken families, and lack of opportunity, providing an immersive and realistic picture of growing up poor in America.

ROCET was formed by a group of community members for the support and encouragement of educators hard hit by state and federal budget cuts to education funding.

Ottawa County educators and staff were invited to the first event on Aug. 9 and on Aug. 15 a second event was held for Miami teachers, which served as a professional and staff development day required by the state.

Over 100 people from all areas and walks of life in Ottawa County came out to rally and cheer for the attendees of the Tuesday event as they entered the First Christian Church building. Among them were retired teachers, business owners, city leaders, the Miami High School football team, softball team and cheerleaders, students and many community members. The church allowed ROCET use of the building.

Participants later shared comments about the events on ROCET’s Facebook page.

“Thanks for all that were involved in making today happen! At first, I didn't understand why me, just the secretary, had to be there, along with the janitors and kitchen staff, but at the end of the day I realized, with the help of Alton Carter, that EVERY school employee is important to our students! Thanks ROCET for getting this together and all of the sponsors!” Louise Kissee wrote.

“Today was one of the best in-service days I've had. Great speakers, felt appreciation and delicious lunch. Thank you to the ROCET committee for your hard work! “ Trinda Crow wrote.

Clarissa Davis wrote, “Thank You sooo much for today!! It's so awesome to see the community come together to support not only us teachers but the ENTIRE staff!!!”

“Today was the absolute best in-service day I've ever attended. Thank you to everyone that made today possible. I think Ottawa County school personnel are lucky to have people like you all invest in their lives. It was (a) perfect day!!!" Kim Johnson wrote.

Major sponsorship was also provided by POCI (Partners of Ottawa County, Inc.); Ottawa County United Way; Wyandotte Nation; First National Bank; the Inter-Tribal Council of Northeastern Oklahoma; Scepter; Northeast Tribal Health System; TSET; the Quapaw Tribe; Cherokee Nation; Quality Mushrooms; Engelbrecht Farms; Family Dental Associates and Miami Walmart.

"It was a great day. I’m really pleased and thankful to all the people who helped make it possible,” DeLano said. “It was definitely a community event, and it took a lot of hands on this event to make it possible. We encourage the volunteers and community to make this more than a one-day event and to reach out to educators, so hopefully, that will happen.”

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.