University recognizes educator, administrator for their impact  

In a recent ceremony at the Pittsburg State University, the College of Education gave this year’s Distinguished Service Administrator Award to Pam Stranathan (EDd ‘21) and Distinguished Service Educator Award to Tyler Oestreicher (BSEd ‘10, MS ‘11).  

Stranathan, who has served as a school administrator in Kansas and Colorado, has most recently overseen 5,800 students, 1,000 employees, and 11 school buildings and successfully facilitated a $29 million bond issue as superintendent at Gardener-Edgerton school district. 

Oestreicher is a physical education teacher at Central Heights High School in Richmond, Kansas, where he attended school, and has coached middle and high school level athletes, organizes elementary field days, and coordinates Jump for Heart. 

Both say their experience in the College of Education helped lay a solid foundation. 

“My experience at Pitt State was that faculty and staff called us by our first names when they saw us on campus and in the hallway, which showed me I wasn’t just a number,” Oestreicher said. “That connection felt really good.” 

As a graduate student, he was able to help develop curriculum in the exercise science program, conduct research with athletes on a treadmill, teach classes in lifetime fitness, and coach at a nearby school district. 

“It was fun to be able to get my feet wet doing what I wanted to do before even graduating,” he said. 


Stranathan: Inspired by great leaders 

Stranathan said she was inspired on her career path by instructors she had while working on her superintendent licensure in classes offered at a satellite location in Olathe, Kansas. 

“They were all superintendents themselves, and they modeled great leadership,” she said. “One of the things I’m always telling staff, especially administrators, is that we always have to remember where we came from, we can’t ever forget that, we must keep that in perspective. Our main goal is what’s best for our kids in the district." 

She comes from a family of Gorillas, including her mother-in-law Helen Stranathan (BS ‘74, MS ‘75) who taught science at PSU, and most recently, her daughter Sara, a freshman in the nursing program. 

Her initial reaction upon being chosen by the College of Education was surprise and humility. 

“I know I’m not the only person could have won that or received this honor,” she said. “To know others perceive you and your accomplishments as worthy is really something. Educators do a lot of things that are above and beyond that are normal for them, with no expectation of acknowledgement. It's just the things we do as part of our profession, for kids and for staff. But it’s nice to be recognized for that.” 


Oestreicher: Collaborative, engaged, and impactful 

Oestreicher, too, said he was surprised and humbled. 

“To be honest, I was at my desk and I very rarely get voice mails, but this one was from the dean of the College of Education. When I heard the news, I was speechless,” he said. “I thought, surely that’s not right? My wife, Lori, is a teacher here, too – we met at Pitt State – and my reaction was, ‘Are you sure you got the right person?’.” 

"I’m still in shock mode that I got this,” he said. “I love my students, I love doing what I do, and I have good administrators, and getting this is a nice way to wrap up the semester.” 

His nominators praised him for being collaborative, a great role model, and an engaged teacher who spends hours outside the classroom organizing fundraisers to benefit the district and events to involve students, community members, and other teachers and staff. 

His nominators also noted the lasting impact the Oestreichers have had on the district after a personal tragedy: the couple lost their infant child due to a heart defect, and the school supported them during their loss.  

In return, the couple gifted playground and PE equipment, awarded teacher grant, and high school scholarships to the school in their daughter’s honor, and gifted books, food, and money to the Children’s Mercy PIC Unit, gave blankets and money to the Olathe Birthing Center, provided Christmas dinners for Franklin County families, and many other acts of charity. 

“Tyler is constantly looking and reflecting on how to become a better educator,” said his principal, Lucas Matile, in his nomination letter. “Students don’t avoid his classroom because he pushes them to be their best, they flock to it.”

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