Nathan Hale Weekly

April 11, 2016

Vision Statement

To provide a safe and supportive environment where rigorous foundational knowledge is acquired and applied.

Looking Forward

Tuesday, All district principals had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Gist and her team regarding the new vision and strategic plan. If you haven't had time to check it out, you can click the link below. Destination Excellence outlines the priorities we have as a district. Our meeting consisted of deepening our understanding of what the plan is and starting to understand how to carry it out. In similar fashion, we used part of our early release PD and the faculty meeting this week to form committees and find the priorities as a staff for the upcoming school year. Those priorities are pictured below. During the next few week we will take the time to create action plans in order to ensure these priorities become reality. Action plans will included timelines, meeting times, outcomes and owners. This work will be critical in setting the right foot forward for the upcoming school year.

On another note, I have been engaging in a series of meetings with city counselor Karen Gilbert about holding "Truancy Court" at Nathan Hale High School. The idea is to give parents and students options rather that handing out fines. We will be meeting with the Nathan Hale attendance team this week to brainstorm new ideas. So far we have considered requiring community service at the school and family counseling through the Mental Health Association as valuable alternatives to a fine. We hope to have something in place in the very near future. We will keep you posted.

Many of you are aware that we have recently taken a look at standardizing the school logos. A meeting to discuss this issue will take place in our library at 6:00 Wednesday, April 20th. Today I will have the meeting sent out through the normal lines of communication. All students, staff, parents, alumni and community members are welcomed.

Finally, underneath the pictures of our committee priorities is a link to a press release. Dr. John King, U.S. Secretary of Education will be visiting Tulsa on Friday. I have been invited to a roundtable discussion with Dr. King that morning. The topic...TESTING! If you have thought that you wish for me to share please let me know via email.

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Roster Verification

Teachers, Roster Verification is upon us! For those of you not familiar, roster verification is critical to your value added scores. This process allows you to make sure you receive credit for student improvement. In the coming weeks we will devote a staff meeting to the process to fully inform and train the entire staff.
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Coming Attractions

  • April 13-15: Progress Reports Due
  • April 20: Progress Reports Sent Home
  • April 23: Senior Prom
  • May 2-3: Senior Finals
  • May 6: Ranger-in-Review
  • May 9: Senior Fail List
  • May 8: Roster Verification
  • May 9: Senior Trip
  • May 11-12: Finals underclassmen
  • May 17: Graduation practice
  • May 18: Graduation (5:00pm)

Counselor's Corner

Here is an opportunity for high school students (or parents/faculty!) from Stephanie Wilhelm. I am with TFI Family Connections, a local nonprofit serving foster families and the children in their care. We are hosting Salsa De Mayo, an annual fundraising event, at the UMAC on May 22 from 2:30 – 4:30pm. We are looking for volunteers to assist with the activities and to help the event run smoothly. If there is an opportunity to share this information, it would be greatly appreciated.

More information and how to sign up can be found at

Thank you!

Stephanie Wilhelm

Events & Volunteer Coordinator

TFI Family Services, Inc.

217 SE 4th St, Topeka KS 66603

Phone: (785)580-5826

Don't forget to see the counselors for summer school applications.

Mrs. Keri Bates

My name is Keri Spinks-Bates. I graduated from Fort Gibson High School in 1995 and then attended one year of college. I landed an amazing job as a corporate forensic financial investigator. After a few years of that and a few more as a stay-at-home mom, I went back to college. I received my BA in English with a minor in Humanities from Northeastern State University in 2006. I served as president of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society for educators. I am also a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the honor society of English. I taught six years at RJ Wells Middle School for Catoosa Public School. I taught 6-8th grade English, Reading, ELL Math, Drama, & Broadcast Journalism. I worked on the team that initiated the school’s 1:1 technology program and we became an Apple Distinguished School. While at Catoosa, I sponsored: Academic Team, NJHS, Math Counts Team, directed 4 musicals and 7 plays, and created the Broadcast Journalism TV News Show for the school.

After teaching middle school for 6 years, I was ready for a change and new challenge which brought me to Hale. I teach Credit Recovery. I also sponsor the Class of 2017, co-sponsor the class of 2016, advise the Gay-Straight Alliance Club, Site Tech, and Coordinate ACE After School Tutoring and Coordinate the WorkKeys and PFL programs. I have had the amazing opportunity to start Hale’s 1st Winter Guard Team. We have had a very successful first year. We are competing at STATE on Saturday.

I am married to Jared and we have 5 kids! Winter Guard for my daughter and Boy Scouts for all 4 of my boys keep our home busy.

Please visit my page at:

English Department

Jenna Hillman-Department Chair-I was born and raised in Tulsa and is a product of Tulsa Public Schools, graduating from Memorial High School in 1995. I continued to the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a BS in English Education. I started teaching in January of 2001 at Monroe Middle School. After 4 ½ years there, I came to Hale High School. While here, I have done quite a few yearbooks, have been the Class of 2010 sponsor, and have advised Student Council. This year, I decided to just focus on being the English department chair. While it can be hectic, it’s a great position. And I am still loving teaching seniors. It took me 10 years, but I finally got them.

I don’t have any kids (besides my students…duh), but I do have two adorable nephews, Harry (9) and Sully (5). I also have a dog, Ophelia, and a cat, Professor Minerva McGonagall. I watch way too much television with an emphasis on cop shows and read a ton (never too much) with an emphasis on mysteries—maybe I was a homicide detective in another life. J And my only addictions are Coca-Cola and cheese. Cheese is life.

Amber Baumgartner-Amber started her adult life as a reporter for the Tulsa World. After moving to Kansas for a couple of years, she came back home and started rethinking her career. Her original major in college was English Education, and she had not lost her drive to teach.

She decided it was time to get her alternative certification and begin the career she loves. After teaching middle school in Broken Arrow for one year, Amber found where she belongs here at Nathan Hale. This is her fourth year teaching -- third at Hale.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Public Relations from Oklahoma State University.

Amber has a husband and two growing boys and lives in Broken Arrow.

Ruth Bolding- I grew up in Houston Texas. I went to school in Texas. My favorite colors are pink and purple. I love my family and traveling.

Allison Bowen- I am a native Tulsan and I grew up about 3 miles east of Nathan Hale and attended the schools of Cooper Elementary, Foster Jr. High, and East Central High. I attended Tulsa Jr. College, now TCC, the University of Oklahoma, and graduated from Northeastern State University with a B.A. in Social Studies Education. The early 1990s was a time when teachers were abundant and jobs weren’t so I substituted for about three years before landing my first teaching job with TPS at Monroe Middle School in 1993. This year will be my 23rd complete year with TPS. I taught 6th and 8th grade Social Studies at Monroe for 4 years and then moved to Edison Middle School for 7 years where I taught 7th grade World Geography. During my years at Edison I attended ‘Library School’ at the Tulsa branch of the University of Oklahoma and earned my Masters in Library & Information Science in Dec. 2001. I left Edison to be the librarian at Hawthorne Elementary where I learned that I was not suited to work with younger students and chose to return to the classroom after one year there. I taught 7th grade Geography again at Wilson Middle School for five years and moved to the librarian position for the last two years before it was closed through Project School House. I was privileged to have Dr. Oliver Wallace as my principal there for 3 years and Mr. Starr for one year. I have been at Nathan Hale for 5 years.

My husband, Kevin, and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary in June. We have a son who will be 11 in April and a daughter who is 9. Kevin and I adopted them from OKDHS on April 17, 2009. Being their mom is the joy of my life. We love to travel and just returned from a Spring Break trip to NYC. I think our next big adventure will take us west to California sometime in 2017.

David Gilley-I was born in Tulsa but raised in Moore, and graduated from Moore High School. I attended Rose State College and initially majored in Biology. After taking a college Biology class, I quickly changed my major to English Literature and have been better for it. After graduating from Rose State I attended the University of Oklahoma and received my BA in English Lit and a minor in History. A few years in cubicle purgatory at a mortgage company convinced me to return to school and pursue an MA in Contemporary Literature. Upon graduating I returned to my birthplace and attended the University of Tulsa for a year. Not finding what I needed there, I enrolled in the Film Studies PhD program at Oklahoma State University. While at OSU I studied film as well as Composition and Rhetoric. Although I completed my dissertation over the history and cultural ramifications of Hip-Hop and cinema, a series of academic and personal issues caused me to leave OSU before defending the dissertation. Currently I am now considering revising it and submitting it to publishers. I have published entries on Hip-Hop cinema, various films, and Tupac Shakur in Greenwood Press’ Encyclopedia of African American Literature and Encyclopedia of Hip-Hop Literature (which is on the shelves of Hale!), as well as an essay on the schlock horror film Basket Case for The Other: The Online Journal of the San Francisco Society for Lacanian Studies. After a variety of teaching positions at colleges I spent a short stint in the Oil and Gas sector. I am excited to be teaching again and enjoy the students and my colleagues here at Hale High School.

In my free time I attend live music events, ride my skateboard at Tulsa’s various skateparks, play guitar, and write songs. I currently live in Tulsa with a mellow Shih-Tzu named Boomer and an evil cat named Ellie.

Sharon Hammons-I am known as Mrs. Hammons, I graduated from Langston University with a B.A. and a M.A.; I am bilingual with French being my second language. I have lived in France and Africa, Paris and Mali and Senegal. I have visited Spain, Belgium, and Morroco. I am an inventor. I am listed with a United States Patent(5,351,699) as of Oct 4, 1994. I have been with Tulsa Public Schools for 12 years. English is my major and my Masters is in Urban Education. I am a mother of three and Grandmother of five.

Ed Kallay- I was born July 4, 1960 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I graduated Tulsa Edison in 1978. I graduated 1982 from Westminster College in Fulton, MO. with B.A. in Economics where I competed in varsity soccer. After 2 years of gold mining in Alaska, I spent 30 years as local real estate broker/developer. I have 3 wonderful children: Matthew(26), Maggie(20), and Annie(18). I began teaching at Lighthouse Charter School on volunteer/full-time substitute basis 3 years ago before joining the staff at Hale last fall. I enjoy skiing, hiking, martial arts, pool and my students!

Kylinn Kennedy- My name is Kylinn Kennedy and I teach English Language Development. I graduated from NSU with a bachelors in English and a Masters of Teaching in Education. I taught 8th grade Language Arts for 2 years at McLain, and ELD the past 3 years here at Hale. Beginning at age 9, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, especially when I started making my little sister sit in front of my huge world map and recite the 7 continents and 4 oceans. She was 5 and probably still hates me for it, but the way I see it my early lessons probably attributed to her success in life as she makes 4 times as much as I do, and lives in a sweet building near Wrigley Stadium in Chicago! (You're welcome, Lauren!) I'm from the island of Trinidad & Tobago, but I have lived in the Broken Arrow area for about 34 years. Growing up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and having a West Indian cultural background has created a type of bridge between my ELLs and me. Although English is my only Language, sharing the experience of assimilating the American culture while keeping my own has created a common ground, and played a huge role in building relationships with our ELLs here at Hale. I am thankful to be a part of the good work we do as a team here at Hale High School.

I am lucky to be the mother of an awesome 11 year old, Jenna. Unfortunately, her birthday is 4/20—at least she doesn’t know what that means yet! I also have a 1 year old pit bull named Bailey; I didn’t know he was going to be 90 pounds. Oops!

Timantha Norman-I am a native Tulsan and I graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. After taking a break for a year to work with AmeriCorps VISTA, I alternated between school and working. I eventually got my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a Minor in History from the University of Oklahoma. This is my second year teaching English III here at Nathan Hale. I have been married for almost 6 years this May and I am the mother of an adorable, precocious 3.5 year old (4 this June!). Aside from spending time with family in my spare time, I enjoy reading any and everything, writing, photography and being outdoors when I have the time. My future plans are to pursue either a MA (or MJ) in Journalism or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and work in one (or several) of the specializations in one of those fields.

Amanda Trower-I’m an Okie from Muskogee. I was born in Muskogee and grew up in Tulsa. I was a lifer in Union Public Schools k-12. I attended and graduated from Northeastern State University with degrees in English and Psychology. I went to law school for a year and a half before deciding that was not the life for me and I left. I applied for and received my alternative certification in Secondary English Education. I worked for Enterprise Holdings for three years while waiting for a teaching position to open up. I would work 4 ten hour days and then substitute at TPS schools on Fridays. One day I asked the principal’s secretary if they had any open positions. The school I was at that day was Nathan Hale HS and the secretary was our own Shari Riser. Mr. Starr was out of the building that day so I left my information with Shari. I was leaving for the day when they came over the intercom and asked for me to report to the office. I had a whirlwind interview with Dixie Speer and I was hired later that month on my birthday! My first year of teaching I didn’t have a classroom so I traveled from room to room on a cart. I also worked a quarter day as the Gifted and Talented instructor at MacArthur Elementary. My first year of teaching was a little crazy and that helped me develop skills I use daily as a teacher here at Hale. I coach our girls’ soccer and volleyball teams and have sponsored two graduating classes.

I’m the oldest of four children. My family has spread out across America in the last ten years so most vacation time I spend travelling to visit them where they live. I love to travel. I have visited three of the seven continents and I hope to see the other four in my lifetime. I read voraciously and am hardly ever found without a book in my purse.

Jessica West-

I am a Tulsan – born and raised. I went to John Marshall Elementary School and Nimitz Middle
School before moving to the Union District. I then went to the University of Tulsa and majored in English and Secondary Education and minored in Theatre and French.

This is my 15th year to teach and my 7th year to teach at Hale High School. I started my career teaching a full day of Drama at Broken Arrow South Intermediate. This was an introduction to teaching by fire. I had no materials or set curriculum. I was in a pre-fab building by myself. The district computer system hated me, and I would periodically get shut out – losing all of my emails, grades, and attendance. I had to have a show ready to open less than 6 weeks after school started, and I had never directed ANYTHING in my life. I did all of that while being a single parent to a 3-year-old. Needless to say, one year there was more than enough!

After that I taught 3 years at Rogers, 2 years in Bixby, and 2 years at Franklin Middle School when it was the alternative middle school for TPS. In that time, I taught every grade of English from 6 to 12 including a year of Special Education English, Speech, Drama, Acting, and “Fine Arts and Fundamentals”.

Even while at Hale my room and teaching assignments have frequently changed. Since I have taught here, I have had 5 different classrooms. Here I have taught English 1, Read 180, Reading and Writing Lab, English 3, AP Literature, and Credit Recovery. It is no wonder that I considered myself a “first year teacher” for most of my career.

I have four children. My step-daughter is 19 and expecting her first child in August. My daughter is 18. My step-son is also 18. And I have a 6-year-old son. In addition, I have a husband and two big crazy dogs (a black lab and a border collie mix).

Justin Yates-I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both of my parents have a mix of Irish and Cherokee Indian in their bloodlines. I had a tough childhood. As the eldest child I helped my mother, Wilma, raise my two younger brothers.

Whilst in Korea I started to study martial arts. In the 1960s I won many Karate titles, culminating in 1968 with my victory in the World Professional Middleweight Karate championships for the first time. I held the title until 1974 when I retired.

I got into acting via my L.A. karate school where I instructed many celebrities and made my film debut in The Wrecking Crew (1968) although my official website refers to Return Of The Dragon (1973) with Bruce Lee as my 'feature film debut'.

I appeared in many more films, most notably three Missing In Action films in the 1980s.
From 1993 to 2001 I played the starring role in the hit television series Walker, Texas Ranger. I was also the executive producer on the show. In 1997, I became the first man from the Western Hemisphere in 4,500 years to be awarded an 8th degree Black Belt Grand Master recognition in the Tae Kwon Do system.

In 2007, I began my teaching career at Union High School, teaching senior English and journalism and continued teaching English at Tulsa Community College and several other colleges in Northeast Oklahoma. I am (hopefully) a year from finishing my PhD from OU-Norman in English Education. I look forward to a long career of shaping minds and inspiring students to appreciate learning while embracing the martial arts mentality of discipline.


Wishing You A Happy April Birthday!

Katie Mackey-1st

Allison Bowen-2nd

Amy Willett- 2nd

Jonathan Remilus- 6th

Steven Dickherber-11th

Valerie Perry-13th

Ed Batchelor- 21st

Letty Wassom-27th