A Nichols Elementary teacher has been named Educator of the Year by the Oklahoma DARE. Officers Association.

Jenny Machado was recognized recently as an outstanding Drug Abuse Resistance Education educator, an honor DARE officer Kenny Brodrick says is well deserved.

“I have watched this teacher for the past two and a half years go from a rookie to a veteran,” Brodrick said.

Brodrick, who nominated the fifth-grade teacher, says he has been amazed at how well the young “rookie” teacher has transformed from substitute to lead teacher in such a short time.

“In the 2005-06 school year, the 22-year-old lady had just finished her college and student teaching and was searching for a full-time teaching job,” Brodrick said.

Machado began her career in Miami as substitute teacher. One of her first assignments - kindergarten, two weeks before the holidays.

Having survived that, Machado was given a full-time position as fifth grade teacher.

“This particular class that she was moving to was in a bit of a mess,” Brodrick said. “They had began the year with a male educator who left in the middle of the first semester. The class welcomed a female educator who had not been raised in this part of the country and the different lifestyle soon clashed. The educator left early in the second semester.”

And, in steps the “rookie”.

Brodrick said he was teaching his fourth or fifth DARE. lesson when Machado took over the classroom.

“As you can imagine, the class did their very best to destroy her,” Brodrick said. “Never-the-less, I watched with amazement as this brand new educator kept her cool and began to shape this disruptive class into a class of respectful fifth graders.”

For Machado, the task comes natural.

“I love kids - obviously,” Machado said. “I chose to teach because every day is different. Every day is an opportunity to learn with my kids.”

Machado said “Officer Ken” has made a huge difference in the students.

“They love him,” Machado said. “He's a real important roll model to them. He's someone they can trust.”

Along with self-esteem, Machado said her students have learned through Brodrick that they don't want to become one of the kids who let drugs and alcohol destroy their lives.

Brodrick said teachers like Machado make his job much easier.

“She taught the students respect - a lost art,” Brodrick said. “Respect for each other, themselves as well as adults. They were taught all the required classes with love and compassion from a teacher who truly cares for her students. Teaching is not just a job, it is a lifestyle for her.”