Toby Keith, Five Others to Receive Service Awards
Jennifer Gehay, Development Coordinator
[email protected]charterschools.com / 405-947-6272
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toby Keith, Five Others to Receive Service Awards
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, AUGUST 5, 2014 – The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala
dinner and silent auction on Thursday, September 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will
recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for their lifetime of contributions made
toward helping others in society maximize their potential and achieve their dreams. Those selected to
receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg,
Kansas; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late
Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.
Event co-chairs are Judy J. Hatfield, Equity Realty principal and broker, and Bill Schonacher,
president and CEO of IBC Bank Oklahoma. IBC Bank is the event’s platinum sponsor, Pitsco, Inc.
is a gold sponsor and Macy’s is a silver sponsor. Top event silent auction items donors include
Koslow’s Fine Furs, Storm Safe tornado shelters, The Journal Record, and Walt Disney World.
The Door-Opener Award takes its name from the Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation: Be an opener of
doors for such as come after thee. “This year’s award recipients have been on the front lines of
generously helping others reach their personal best, so they are fabulous role models for all of us to
emulate,” states Judy J. Hatfield, gala co-chair. “They experienced someone opening a door for
them during their formative years, so they have direct personal knowledge of how helping another
person, or paying it forward, is what makes a society great!”
More Honorees’ Profiles
Dr. Harvey Dean, born in Ada, Oklahoma, is recognized for being a pioneer in educational programs
and services used by K-12 students and teachers throughout the United States and many foreign
countries. He co-founded Pitsco, Inc., located in Pittsburg, Kansas, an innovative provider of handson learning tools that promote the ever increasingly popular STEM (science, technology, engineering
and math) learning curriculum.
Dr. Dean is an inventor, too, and founded the modular teaching concept that is used in numerous
classrooms, both public and private. In addition, he authored “Changing Education: A Success
Story,” a valuable book for teachers and administrators that promotes the Synergistic System to help
teachers motivate students.
Dr. Dean, who is also a former Oklahoma public school teacher, received his undergraduate degree
from East Central University in Ada.
Toby Keith and Tricia Covel are recognized for the impressive number of ways they have used
their worldwide influence and connections in the music industry to help open doors for others,
ranging from sick children to women golfers and from Oklahoma tornado victims to America’s
armed forces abroad.
Through their nonprofit Toby Keith Foundation, they recently opened OK Kids Korral in Oklahoma
City, a cost-free lodging facility for families with children undergoing cancer treatment.
Tricia’s annual Schooner Fall Classic collegiate golf tournament at Belmar Golf Club brings muchdeserved attention to women’s golf, while raising funds for the Toby Keith Foundation, and Toby’s
USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tours are legendary for the number he has participated in, 200, and
the joy his music brings members of the military who are far from home.
Last year, Toby and Tricia mounted the Oklahoma Twister Relief Project concert to raise funds for
Moore tornado victims. The result: 60,000 concert goers and $2 million in proceeds.
The Honorable George P. Nigh is recognized for his longtime and consistent support of public
education in Oklahoma at all levels, the way in which he unflaggingly promoted tourism during his
time as a state leader, the doors he opened for women in state government, and his support of the
More His contributions to education began as a high school teacher in McAlester. After a successful
government career, where he served as a state representative, the state’s lieutenant governor, and then
governor, he became the president of the University of Central Oklahoma, transforming its reputation
and expanding its facilities.
As governor, he opened doors for women by appointing the first and second women to the state’s
Supreme Court, and as the state’s top tourism booster, he help open the door to Oklahoma by enticing
movie producers to film in Oklahoma.
Governor Nigh is also recognized for the work he does with his wife, Donna, in advocating for the
rights of developmentally-disabled persons to lead full lives filled with dignity and accomplishments.
Dr. Ramona Paul, who died in 2013, was the former assistant state superintendent at the Oklahoma
State Department of Education. She is being recognized posthumously for her numerous and
meaningful contributions to public education in Oklahoma and other states during her 50-year
professional career, as well as her active civic volunteer involvement with numerous nonprofit
organizations that primarily focused on education as pathways to individuals’ success.
Dr. Paul is widely credited with spearheading the development and implementation of Oklahoma’s
early childhood education initiative for children aged 4, which is recognized today as the premier
program of its kind in the country.
Her life’s contributions to facilitating education as a door opener for others included writing 35
“Your World” children’s books and teaching at all levels of public education: elementary, secondary
and post-secondary. During a career that positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of young
people including budding teachers, she left an indelible, positive mark in the state and country.
At the collegiate level, Dr. Paul taught at her alma mater, Oklahoma State University, Texas
Woman’s University and Purdue University, where she received her doctoral degree. She also taught
in the Edmond and Oklahoma City Public Schools systems.
As a volunteer, Dr. Paul served on the boards of Schools for Healthy Lifestyles, Potts Family
Foundation and Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation and numerous others.
More Natalie Shirley is recognized for the positive impact on public higher education she has had during
her tenure as president of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, in addition to past
contributions made to Oklahoma citizens during her time in state government and experience opening
doors in corporate America as president of a major national insurance group. She is also recognized
for her volunteer work with several Oklahoma City-area nonprofit organizations.
Mrs. Shirley has the distinction of being the first female president to serve in the multi-campus,
37,000-student OSU system. With a student body of more than 7,500 enrollees, her campus recently
graduated more than 1,086 students, the highest number in its 51-year history.
During her tenure as Oklahoma’s secretary of commerce and tourism, where she also served as
executive director, Mrs. Shirley managed nationwide advertising initiatives to increase visitors to the
As a corporate leader, she had a positive impact on the lives of millions of Americans. Serving as
president of Investment Company Institute Mutual Insurance Group in Washington, D.C., Mrs.
Shirley was responsible for an organization, whose members managed total assets of $16.3 trillion
and served more than 90 million shareholders.
Her volunteer work on behalf of local charities that open doors for countless numbers of citizens each
day, includes board service with Calm Waters and United Way of Central Oklahoma.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Door-‐Opener Award Gala sponsorships are available at the $10,000 and $5,000 levels and include an eight-‐person table and private reception with Door-‐Opener honorees, in addition to other perks. Tables for eight can be purchased for $2,500. For event details contact Jeni Bruns: [email protected] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
More ASTEC Charter Middle School and ASTEC Charter High School have a combined enrollment of
750 students. The middle school, founded in 2000, has the distinction of being Oklahoma’s first
start-up charter school. Having outgrown their current location in rented space in Shepherd Mall in
inner-city Oklahoma City, the schools will be moving to a new campus near the Oklahoma State
Fairgrounds in 2016 that will greatly expand student learning, health and wellness opportunities and
accommodate the addition of an elementary charter school in the future.
ASTEC Fund, Inc. is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization responsible for raising funds for ASTEC
Charter Schools. ASTEC Fund, Inc. is led by a group of Oklahoma City area civic leaders. Lou Kerr
is the board’s current chair.
Additional information about ASTEC Charter Schools and ASTEC Fund, Inc. can be found online at