Jena Nelson, running to be Oklahoma’s next state superintendent of public instruction, is the student support coordinator and academic enhancement instructor at Deer Creek Middle School. Her classroom excellence was recognized when she won 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. In addition to being an educator, Mrs. Nelson is mom to 17-year-old son, Rafe, and 12-year-old daughter, Linnea. Her husband, Karl, is a professor and director of choral studies at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Mrs. Nelson has been an educator for more than 16 years and has helped her students earn over $4 million in scholarships. She has been selected to direct at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and was chosen as a presenter at the International Music Festival in Campina Grande Brazil.
In 2020, she was asked by Congresswoman Kendra Horn to attend the State of the Union Address in Washington D.C. She recently spoke at the National Academy for Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Oklahoma Music Educators Association Conference, and was presented the Award for Teaching Excellence from the OEA.
This year Jena is one of 45 national educators to receive the California Casualty and The NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. Recently, she was awarded the Lauren Choate Resilience Award from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi Gamma Omega Chapter. She is also featured in the upcoming “Teacher Hero Project.”