2023 Awesome Moms Contest Winners - MetroFamily Magazine
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2023 Awesome Moms Contest Winners

Awesome Mom Winner Denise Serrato

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More than 50 metro moms were nominated for our annual Awesome Moms contest, and we are inspired by the stories of each and every one. Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations this year! Celebrate the stories of all our nominees by visiting metrofamilymagazine.com/meet-our-awesome-mom-nominees.

Thank you to our Awesome Moms prize sponsors: Wyndham Hotel, The Spa at 10 North, Redrock Canyon Grill, Hefner Grill, Mama Roja’s, Upper Crust and Eminence Organics.

Congratulations to the 2023 Awesome Moms winner and finalists!

Winner

Denise Serrato

Denise Serrato

Denise remembers what it felt like to be a new fourth-grade student, knowing no English and being thrown into a whole new culture when her family moved from Mexico to America. Now as a bilingual specialist for OKCPS, she relates deeply to her students in similar situations.

“I know what the kids are going through — I see how much they struggle and how scary it can be,” said Denise. “It’s important to remember that it’s as much about getting comfortable in the new environment as it is about learning. Every accomplishment is a huge celebration.”

Denise works with students learning English in first through fourth grades at Monroe Elementary School with a focus on building relationships before working on concepts like letters or colors. She also builds connections with students’ parents, who have often been previously unable to communicate directly with their child’s teacher due to the language barrier.

“The parents want to be involved but they don’t know how or don’t have the language,” explains Denise.

When her students first feel secure and seen, along with their families, it’s then they can truly flourish academically. And Denise is by their side to celebrate every step of the way.

Denise has been so inspired by her students over the past five years — as well as her own two children — that she is now pursuing her teaching degree through OKCPS’ Bilingual Pipeline Program, attending classes at night while working during the day.

“My priority is being the best mother I can be, but when you are a teacher, you become a second parent to these kids,” said Denise.

Denise debated whether to take part in the program and pursue her teaching degree for several years, knowing how much work is involved. Ultimately, it was the desire to show her kids her strength and willingness to work hard for their collective futures that gave her the courage to take the leap.

“About five years ago, my marriage ended and I had to start over — to find a job and still be the best parent I could be,” said Denise. “I wanted to show my kids that we are still a family, that we can get through hard things and that I will be the best parent I can be.”

While juggling school, work and being a single parent can sometimes be challenging, Denise’s palpable joy and gratitude in being mother to her daughter and son is the motivation for everything she does.

“Being a parent is the one thing I love most about myself,” said Denise. “It’s super challenging and stressful and wonderful all at once.”

Denise loves taking her kids to different restaurants around the metro to try new-to-them foods, putting away the electronics to go on a hike, visiting museums and attending local events.

She describes her kids, ages 11 and 7, as generous, kind and loving. While hard for her to let go, Denise is focused on raising confident, independent individuals who will voice their opinions and stand up for others.

“I want them to believe in themselves enough to pursue whatever it is they want to pursue,” said Denise.

As Denise lives that mantra out in her daily life, a powerful example for her kids, she is also a powerful example for other parents: it’s OK to lose yourself in parenthood because what you’re likely to find is a stronger version of yourself.

“My kids teach me so much about myself, like how to handle certain situations and what I really think about specific topics,” said Denise. “I am rocking this, and I am loving the ride.”

“Denise came to this country not knowing the English language. She fought and persevered and she now works for the Oklahoma [City] Public School System helping kids who were in her exact situation while setting a great example for her own two kids.” Mario, nominator

 


Finalist

Margie Brown

Margie Brown

Margie laughs that she has been raising kids all her life. She and her husband, William, had three children and also fostered two children, all while they both held full-time jobs, Margie working for a computer technology company. Their daughter LaTresa adds that Margie acted as another mom to their friends while growing up, too, providing both love and discipline.

Margie has helped raised one of her five grandchildren and two of her great-grandchildren. She is proud that, today, each of her descendants reflects her desire to “do right and be right” and contribute to the community around them.

Margie says parenting takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice and oftentimes more listening than instructing. She’s also a firm believer in the power of prayer.

“You have to listen to them as well as give your views because all kids and teenagers are different,” advises Margie. “You have to understand where they are coming from and where they are trying to go. We’re not going to agree on everything, but we can meet them halfway and give them a chance.”

Margie says now that she’s a grandma, she gets to do a little more spoiling and a little less disciplining. She’s long adhered to the “three strikes, you’re out” philosophy because even while parents are teaching their children right from wrong in order to live independent, productive lives, there has to be room for them to make mistakes, too.

Her greatest hope is that her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember and continue to pass on to the generations to come that she taught them to treat others with kindness.

“To this day, our childhood friends and foster kids keep in touch with my mother and even take time out of their lives to come visit her. And, yes, they still call her mom.” LaTresa, nominator

 


Finalist

Shelly Fletcher

Shelly Fletcher

Just five days after giving birth to her daughter, Emma, Shelly had a stroke and lost complete use of her left side. Doctors told her she likely wouldn’t be able to walk again, and the worries swirled about how she would not only care for her newborn but also return to teaching in her second-grade public school classroom.

Not only did Shelly regain use of her limbs during inpatient care and outpatient rehabilitation, she eventually took up running. As a first grader, Emma wanted to run in the Oklahoma City Memorial Kids Marathon, and Shelly was inspired to join her. Shelly has since run five half marathons.

“Running makes me feel empowered,” said Shelly. “It also helps me relax and have peace.”

Shelly also relies on her faith to keep her grounded and as the first priority in parenting. She hopes that foundation will give Emma the strength and resolve to know she can do anything she puts her mind to.

She continues to teach, working with PreK students at First Learning Center in Moore. Colleagues and friends she has met since the stroke find what Shelly went through 17 years ago hard to believe as there are almost no residual after effects today.

Emma praises her mom’s strength, determination, faith and love, and Shelly says sometimes being strong means asking for help. In a society where moms often bear the weight of the world, Shelly hopes her story will encourage other moms to let others in.

“Just being a mom, asking for help is hard,” said Shelly. “But we need to be able to accept help and know we can’t do everything on our own. That’s something I am continually working on.”

“In May of 2006, Shelly had a stroke. Her chances of living were slim, but she knew that I needed her and she fought through the recovery process.” Emma, nominator

 


 

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