Muskogee Public Schools District Teacher of the Year will have a new car to drive this school year.

The Muskogee school board recently approved a $15,694 purchase order to Corley Chevrolet for the vehicle.

Early Childhood Center teacher Jacquie Hill was named district teacher of the year at an Academic Honors Banquet in May.

Muskogee School Superintendent Dr. Jarod Mendenhall said the district wants to recognize staff as often as possible.

"And what better way to do that than to allow one of our teachers — the one that makes teacher of the year — to drive a new vehicle,” Mendenhall said. “That’s one thing we wanted to do to celebrate what they do and what they do best."

Use of the car will be rotated to the next person named district Teacher of the Year, he said.

MPS is not alone in providing a vehicle for honored faculty. 

Broken Arrow Public Schools provides its Teacher of the Year with a vehicle during the teacher's year of service, said Broken Arrow Public Relations Director Charlie Hannema.

"The car is owned by Matthews Ford, a local Broken Arrow dealership, and is provided to the district in exchange for advertising considerations," Hannema said. "The district does not spend any money on this program."

He said Broken Arrow swaps the vehicle for a newer model every few years.

"The Teacher of the Year drives the car in stuff like the homecoming parade and a handful of other community events," he said. "But my understanding is the purpose of the car is more to be a reward for their accomplishments and a motivation to teachers."

Similarly, Hudiburg Auto Group provides Mid-Del Schools' Teacher of the Year with a car each year, said Mid-Del Community Relations Director Stacey Boyer.  

MPS Chief Executive Officer John Little said the district originally had asked Corley to donate the Teacher of the Year vehicle.

In May, the dealership presented a new car to an outstanding Muskogee High School student. Jesus Capilla was given a 2018 Chevrolet Cruze donated by Corley Chevrolet. Capilla was among more than 120 selected randomly from students who qualified for the dealership's program through perfect attendance, academic achievement, straight As or high community attendance standards.

"Because they had donated (the student's car), we figured they might help with the Teacher of the Year car," he said. "They lowered the price, but they wouldn't donate it."

Mendenhall said MPS is using leftover funds from a transportation bond issue to pay for the vehicle.

Little said the district usually buys vehicles by bids or through state contract.

"The state bids out certain configurations of vehicles, and either you beat that price if the state has already bid it, or you go out for sealed bids," Little said. "This time, Corley beat the price on the state contract price."

He said the state contract on the teacher's vehicle was $18,000, while the district got it for $15,694 at the Muskogee dealership.

Little said he had tried other local car dealers in the past, but none offered cars lower than the state contract.

"This is the first time somebody locally has beat the state contract," he said. "We try to buy locally when we can, but the price difference has been significant." 

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