This award is a tribute to the amazing educators who have been a part of my life. Both my parents worked tirelessly as educators. In doing so, they fostered a love of teaching in me. I am extremely proud and blessed to come from a family of educators. My success in education would not be possible without amazing colleagues, a supportive family, and the wonderful students whom I have been honored to teach. This award inspires me to continue to find ways to make teaching fun and interesting.

Leah Oxner Rapid City, SD | 7-12, Mathematics, 2017

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Leah Oxner has been an educator for 17 years and has spent the last 13 years teaching seventh and eighth-grade at West Middle School. She currently teaches eighth-grade Integrated Mathematics 1 and Mathematics Lab. Prior to that she taught at South Middle School. Leah’s students use an inquiry style of learning in which questioning, making mistakes, and reflecting are part of the learning process. She encourages students to be active participants in their education with her “those who do, are those who learn” philosophy. Leah has opened her classroom to many visitors: College students, fellow teachers, administrators, coaches, and mathematics specialists have observed her teaching. She has also mentored many teachers through new teacher training, technology classes, professional development presentations, and ongoing support. Leah has served on numerous committees during her career. She is currently on the South Dakota Mathematics and Science Leadership Team and the committee to implement a STEAM curriculum in her school. Leah’s awards include two Teacher of Distinction awards from her school district. Leah earned a B.S., cum laude, in secondary education from Northern State University and an M.S. in education from Black Hills State University. She is certified to teach both secondary mathematics and computer science.