Oklahoma Wesleyan University alumni continue to stand out as leaders within their communities and professional workplaces. Rachel Hammon, a 2008 OKWU graduate was recently named Teacher of the Year for Creekwood Elementary School in Broken Arrow, OK.
Graduating summa cum laude, Hammon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Music Education K-12. Following graduation from OKWU, she obtained her Master of Music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During her time at UNL Hammon studied clarinet in the studio of Dr. Diane Barger and served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.
Hammon, who has been working at Creekwood for three years, was chosen by her piers for the prestigious title of Teacher of the Year. Dr. Jarod Mendenhall, the Superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools, described the award winners as “teachers who display qualities of leadership and innovation.” Across the Broken Arrow Public Schools, 27 teachers are chosen on an annual basis.
During her time at OKWU, Hammon was selected as Principal Clarinet of the 2007 National Wind Ensemble group at Carnegie Hall. On top of all her accomplishments, she credits OKWU for helping her grow as a Christian and as an educator.
“To me, the real blessing of being a student at OKWU was that everything was taught through the lens of Christ,” Hammon said. “Whether I was learning about the intricacies of music or how to effectively manage a classroom all of these things were taught from the perspective of Jesus Christ as Creator and Sustainer.”
Often times, graduates will reflect on their time at OKWU and wish they could go back and tell their younger selves something. Hammon, a self proclaimed perfectionist, explains she would have stepped back and relaxed a little more.
“If I could give advice to my college self, it would be worry less, pray more, and enjoy each moment,” Hammon explained. “I am a bit of a Type-A, list-making type of person. Instead of stressing and worrying about finishing projects in school, I wish I would had leaned on God more and trusted Him.”
As an educator Hammon is faced with difficult tasks on a daily basis. Although the education field can be challenging at times, she finds herself excited to teach her students music everyday.
“Sometimes it’s very tiring, demanding, or even frustrating, but more often it is truly rewarding. God has blessed me with many great students and we have a lot of fun learning about music,” Hammon explained.
“I became a music teacher because I wanted to share my knowledge of one of the things in the world that I love most. I also became a music teacher because of the influence of many excellent music teachers in my past.”
As a tribute to all the music teachers she has looked up to as a young musician, Hammon strives to make the same impact on her own students.
“The best part of my job is getting to be a positive influence in students’ lives. I love teaching my students about music, and I am excited when they truly begin to understand concepts and they make connections in what we are learning,” Hammon said. “When they get excited about something in real-life that connects to what we are doing in the classroom, or are proud of a great performance they did, or when they have fun playing the instruments, or if they are intrigued by the lives of the great composers in history, my cup overflows!”
Outside of work Hammon continues to do what she loves the most—play music. Performing in school productions, local concerts and even in international music festivals, she embodies a woman who loves her craft. Currently Hammon is a member of the International Clarinet Association, the National Association for Music Educators and the state branch of OMEA.
In her spare time, Hammon enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, watching British television and loves to spoil the family rat terrier.