Candi Holt and Julie Lang are Blackwell's Teachers of the Year

by Jordan Green

On Monday, March 25, Superintendent Rick Riggs and other administrators announced the winners of the district's most highly-coveted awards for educators.

The awards are given out annually, and their recipients are chosen by district teachers. The winners are also nominated for the statewide Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching Award, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. The winner of that award will receive a $5,000 grant to be used for classroom enhancement, according to a press release sent by the district.

The Journal-Tribune sat down with both Holt and Lang to talk about their teaching careers and how they feel about receiving the awards.


A veteran educator, Holt began her teaching career in Blackwell the summer after graduating from Northwestern Oklahoma State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. The first teaching job she took was at Blackwell Middle School – and it's a job she still holds today.

“The summer after I graduated, all of the jobs in the area were for middle and high schools,” said Holt. “I interviewed for the Title 1 English position at Blackwell Middle School, and now I'm in my 28th year here.”

Holt was inspired to become an educator from her own childhood experiences. She said teaching had “always interested her” as a child: she viewed it as a way to pass along the gifts she received during her time as a student.

“I was the youngest of six kids, and I was only the second to graduate from high school traditionally,” she said. “I was the first to go to college, and I viewed becoming a teacher as a way to give back the education I received.”

Holt says her favorite part of teaching is watching students overcome obstacles in their lives and grow up to attain success.

“Middle school is a tough time for kids, and I love watching students get through that time and soar,” she said. “I love to see students grow up and become the adults they are meant to be. As a Title 1 teacher, I can be the one who is standing by the kids who don't have a lot of support at home. I get to be 'in their corner' to give them the encouragement they need.”

Holt said she was “honored and humbled” to receive the District Teacher of the Year Award. But that wasn't the only one: she was also named the district's secondary teacher of the year, which is given to a teacher working at the middle or high school.

“We have good teachers here at Blackwell, and I am honored that they have chosen me as the district teacher of the year. You don't always think about awards when you are trying to give 100 percent to your students, so I am very excited to know that my peers appreciate what I do,” she said.

“I love Blackwell Middle School. Teachers in this state could go about anywhere and get a job, but I love my BMS family. My heart is at BMS.”

Holt and her husband, John, have been married for 22 years and reside in Tonkawa.


Lang is in her 2nd year of teaching at Blackwell Elementary School. In those two years, she has been able to call BES “home.”

Lang's 20-year teaching career has taken her through the Oklahoma towns of Pocola, Hulbert, and Drumright. Two years ago, her family moved to Blackwell, with her husband, Rick, becoming the head football coach at Blackwell High School.

Lang's inspiration to become a teacher came from her husband and her son, both of whom are educators.

“I was still in college while my husband was teaching,” she said. “He would come home every day, and I could see how rewarding it was for him. Then, we had our son, Maverick. When he was born, I became more interested in child development. So, I changed my major to education.”

Lang attended Northeastern State University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in education. In 2011, she became a National Board Certified Teacher. Five years later, in 2016, she became a reading specialist after earning a master's degree from NSU.

Lang says her favorite part of teaching is helping students reach their full potential.

“I love challenging my students. I set high expectations for them, and to see them rise above those goals is rewarding. I want to show them how to reach those goals and keep working toward success,” she said.

Saying she felt humbled to receive the district's Elementary Teacher of the Year Award, Lang described the sense of gratitude she has toward her fellow teachers.

“I was honored to receive this award,” she said. “This award is voted on by my colleagues, and to know that they chose me to represent them means a lot. We have a lot of deserving teachers at this school. While I am a third grade teacher, I know that every teacher in this building makes BES an easy place to work. They make it easy to enjoy what you do.

“I know I'm new here, but I feel like I have been here forever because everyone in this building is so supportive,” she said.

Lang and her husband live in Blackwell, and they have four children: Maverick, Brittany, Gracey, and Kayty.