By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – Jon Hazell has spent the past two years traveling the state of Oklahoma, hoping to have a positive influence on those in education and beyond. He is looking to soon fill another spot which would also carry state-wide influence.
The 2017 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year posted on Facebook on Wednesday his intention to seek the senate seat of Oklahoma District 6 that is currently filled by Josh Brecheen. Brecheen has chosen to fulfill his promise to hold the office for only eight years. He was elected in 2010.
Hazell said in his post that he was not quite ready for an official announcement. However, with word getting out of his intentions, he wanted to stay ahead of the news.
Hazell has spent the past 35 years serving as a classroom science teacher, a full-time pastor, a family counselor, a ropes course facilitator, and jail and prison ministry. He and his wife, Jeanie, have also been active for many years working with schools and churches in various parts of Africa and Mexico. They are now working with the Undersecretary of Education in Ghana, along with the Ghanaian Ambassador for Human rights to establish schools in the country which will help provide a way out of slavery and poverty for thousands of children.
“The most noble pursuit of anyone in this life is to serve others, and do all that is within one’s power to make other people’s lives better,” Hazell said, regarding what he wanted people to know about him. “That is how I have lived out my life in my hometown, my state, this nation and even across the world. It can best be summed up this way, ‘True leadership can only be accomplished through service.'”
He said working on improving the education climate in Oklahoma at this time is because education directly affects every single entity in our society.
“From economics, to crime rates, to physical health and many other areas, a quality education improves every facet of a society’s well being,” Hazell said. “One of the major factors that separates the suffering of third-world countries from the well being of healthy first world countries is the presence or absence of an equitable, well-run public education system. It is critical that we work to improve and restore the educational institutions in both our state and our nation.”
Hazell also said he believes that one of the greatest forces of destruction at work in both the state and the nation is that people have valued politics and political parties more than they value people.
“We must break free from all of the political rhetoric, and putting labels on people, and we must start seeing the common humanity again that we all share,” Hazell said. “We must stop focusing on who is right and begin to focus on what is right, if we ever hope to come together in a constructive way that would benefit all of our people.
“Although I will be running on the Democratic ticket, I refuse to run on a Democratic platform or a Republican platform, but instead I will be running on a people platform. I see two things happening at the same time right now. First, we are as divided as a country as I have ever seen in my lifetime; but at the same time, I see more people getting fed up with this kind of destructive rhetoric and practice than I have ever seen before, and so I strongly believe there is hope.”
Hazell has traveled across both the state and the nation for the past two years speaking to educators, the business communities, and everyday citizens concerning the issues that our state faces at this time in the area of education, budget issues, and possible solutions to these problems. He has been a member of the joint task force on teacher recruitment and teacher retention through the state Department of Education.
He is a part of the 2018 National Teacher of the Year Cohort, and as such, has had the privilege of both working with and learning from all 56 State Teachers of the year concerning the different challenges that our educational system faces across the nation.
“What I have learned is invaluable when it comes to understanding not only the challenges we all face, but also learning new and innovative ways to successfully meet those challenges,” Hazell said.