Paula Darnell, first-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elemenary School, was named “teacher of the year” by the Miami School District for the 2007-2008 school year.

“It's truly an honor to learn that your peers hold you in such high regard,” Darnell said. “I personally share that respect with all my fellow teachers at Roosevelt, especially since the fire.”

She feels that the teachers at Roosevelt work together well, “like a team.”

“I think we enjoy working under Frank Hecksher, who's very supportive of all of us,” she said. “If you focus on the kids, I think a teacher will have success.”

Hecksher has been principal of Roosevelt for the past five years.

Darnell is a Miami native and is married to Miami businessman, Steve Darnell. They have two children - one son, Drew, 21, and one daughter, Marriah, 12.

She attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Oklahoma State University.

Darnell has taught at Miami Public Schools for 12 years. She previous taught at Vinita Public Schools for 10 years and started her teaching career teaching for a year and a half in Enid.

“I enjoyed teaching in Vinita but, when Steve opened his business in Miami, I was happy to come home,” she said. “We felt this was the best possible place to raise our children.”

While this is the first time Darnell has won the position of “teacher of the year” for the district, it's not her first time as “teacher of the year.”

She was named winner for Roosevelt while the school was camped out at the then First Christian Church.

She was named winner for the Vinita School District while she taught there.

“Every teacher has their own special qualities that they bring to the classroom,” Darnell said.

Darnell, a star with the Miami Little Theatre, brings her acting talent to the classroom.

“I think keeping the students attention is more of a challenge today than it was when I first began teaching,” she said. “You better be doing something exciting or entertaining to keep their attention.”

One of the ways she incorporates her acting talent to do just that by using different character voices when reading. She even helps her students develop a “readers' theatre” to help their talent along.

She attempts to give her classroom “a safe, inviting atmosphere” to help identify and define her students' individual talents and needs and help the students to develop them.

“I'm grateful to all the awesome teachers I work with and know throughout the district,” Darnell said. “Teachers are always willing to share their knowledge and resources which has been a big help in my development as a teacher.”