Sami Garroutte Named One of Two Site Teacher of the Year Recipients at Claremore High School

Sami Garroutte Named One of Two Site Teacher of the Year Recipients at Claremore High School

Sami Garroutte is making her mark on Claremore High School as one of their two Site Teacher of the Year recipients.  

Growing up in the halls, classrooms, and athletic arenas in Claremore, Ms. Garroutte is no stranger to the commitment, dedication, and perseverance teaching demands.  She was born a Zebra to parents who served education for over 30 years as teachers, coaches, principals, and even a superintendent. “I knew that being a teacher would not be easy, but I also saw the purpose in it, and that is what I wanted,” she shared. “What I did not know is how much of my heart it would take.” While she spends many hours lesson planning and grading, she spends even more time thinking about her students and how she can impact their learning in math and life.

Garroutte connects her success as a teacher with her students’ success.  Some of her clear wins are the 54 students who passed the College Algebra CLEP Test during her three years at Deer Creek, the 21 students who passed the AP Calculus test in her three years at Claremore, and the students that have gone on to experience success at a university, trade school, in the military, or in the workforce.  But her favorite successes are the “aha” moments, the growth in confidence, and the daily strides of students that do not come with a statistic and are not apparent to those not watching closely.  “I will never tire of seeing my students achieve what I know they are capable of,” she told us.

Effective teachers care for their students; they believe that all students can learn and helps them to believe it by being genuine and affirming. “I often get students who will comment, “you really enjoy teaching, don’t you?”  To which I reply, “Of course.  I get to see all of you every day.”  Students need to know that a teacher desires to be with them, even if the students do not feel the same way,” she explained.  

Garroutte fights hard to recognize and use the little wins to affirm students and rebuild a foundation of confidence for those who have struggled with math explaining, “It is common for students to enter a math class believing that they cannot do it. There is such a difference between “You answered this question wrong” and “You were so close to being right.” 

An effective teacher must be a lifelong learner.  Sometimes this pertains to the actual content that a teacher is teaching.  When she first taught AP Calculus, she would work all of the homework problems the night before assigning them because it was the best way to see what questions students might have so she would be prepared to answer them.  “But even if a teacher is settled in their content, the work is not done.”  Garroutte clarified,  “there is always a new activity, game, or strategy to try because when we want the absolute best for our students, we never arrive there,”  Effective teachers strive always to be better. 

Once a Zebra - Always a Zebra is true for Ms. Garroutte.  Although she officially began her teaching career at Deer Creek, she returned “home” after a few years to serve the community that built her sharing, “I have always loved the city of Claremore. I love that even with around 19,000 residents, it seems very much like a small town.  I love that the town gathers for football games and parades.  And mostly, I love that some of my favorite people in the world live here.  I was born in Claremore; I was over the moon when God led me back to Claremore.”