New faculty members announced by Okemah Public Schools
By Ken Childers
Several new teachers have recently joined the faculty of Okemah Public Schools, including Sharlet Banks, William Bencoma, Fallon Gaxiola, Loren Green, Amy Richmond and Angela Ryals.
Banks, a graduate of Elk City High School, has been hired as an instructor at the middle school. She obtained her Master’s Degree from Oklahoma State University and has been an educator for the past 25 years. Her teaching career includes one year at Guthrie High School, 12 years at Del City High School and five years at Western Heights Middle School. Banks has four adult children, Tambra, Nathan, Kerri and Jacob.
Bencoma joins the junior high staff as a social studies instructor and coach. He is a graduate of Weleetka High School and studied at Southern Nazarene University. Bencoma formerly taught at Weleetka and Kiefer Public Schools.
Gaxiola is a new first grade teacher at the elementary school. She is a native of Okemah and taught for two years at Bearden Elementary. She graduated from Okemah High School in 2003 and studied at the University of Phoenix. Gaxiola and her husband, Anthony, have three children, Madalyn, Blake and Kallie. She is the daughter Larry and Glenda Earnest and the granddaughter of Dolores White, all of Okemah.
Green, also an Okemah native, has joined the faculty as a second grade teacher. Now in her fifth year of teaching, she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership from Oklahoma State University. She taught previously at Putnam City and Paden. She and her husband, Taylor have a one-year-old child, Townes. Green is the daughter of Jason and Dana Fox and the granddaughter of Sonia Ward and the late David Ward, and the late J.C. “Muggs” and Barbara Fox. “I’m so excited to be back home and a Panther once more,” she said.
Richmond, who taught fifth grade at Okemah from 2016-2018, has returned as a special education instructor at the upper elementary school. She graduated from Crowder High School in 1992 and earned an Associate’s Degree from Eastern Oklahoma State College and a Bachelor’s Degree from Southeastern Oklahoma University. Her six-year teaching career includes stints with Haywood and Wewoka Public Schools. She is married to Chris Richmond and has three adult children, Tabitha Lawson, Briley Cozad and Hunter Cozad. She also has three grandchildren, Easton, Braxley and Josiah.
Ryals, a veteran teacher with 24 years’ experience, is now teaching music at the elementary school. The Okemah High School alumnus attended college at East Central University and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She previously taught music at Woodall Public Schools in Tahlequah, Henryetta Public Schools and Harrah Public Schools. She and her husband, Blaine, serve as pastors of First Assembly of God in Okemah. Ryals, who has a teenage son, Justin Yount, is the daughter of Bill and Rhea McGehee of Okemah. She is the niece of Fred and Marilyn Carson, also of Okemah.