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2022: Meet the newest 20 Under 2 Honorees

The Teaching & Leading Initiative of Oklahoma (TLI) has honored twenty of the top novice teachers in the state in the annual 20 Under 2 list, a list of promising Oklahoma teachers within their first 2 years of teaching. This list celebrates emerging teacher leaders, high performers, and novice educators who make Oklahoma’s future look bright.

Across the state, principals, veteran teachers,students,  and district leaders submitted their top teachers for consideration. Each nomination from principals and colleagues was reviewed and scored by a panel of education professionals. “Nominations were heartfelt, honest, and moving,” said one member of the selection committee, “It is evident that these teachers have had an impact not only in their classrooms, but in the school community.”

The list below celebrates the top twenty nominees for outstanding classroom culture, academic results, and contributions to Oklahoma’s public schools.

 The full honoree list includes the following: 

Ambre Jackson Greenwood Leadership Academy Charter Schools
Arely Tarango Oklahoma City Public Schools
Brandon DeLoach Lawton Public Schools
Jaycee Ardrey Stillwater Public Schools
Jazlyn Marcos Oklahoma City Public Schools
Joshua T. Hawkins Tulsa Public Schools
Kyla Barkley Oklahoma City Public Schools
Laura Martin Chickasha Public Schools
Lizzette Rincon Santa Fe South Charter Schools
Maddison Cook Minco Public Schools
Melissa Ritchie Midwest City-Del City Public Schools
Michelle Baker Glenpool Public Schools
Mireya Espinoza-Santos Dove Schools Of Okc
Robert West Lawton Public Schools
Shekinah “Mikalah” Hall Tulsa Public Schools
Shelby Rhatigan Grove Public Schools
Stephanie Rice Stuart Public Schools
Sydney Hutchison Dale Public Schools
Tahquai-Alyce Mason Collegiate Hall Charter Schools
Whitney Brimat Kipp Tulsa


Thanks to the generous support of T.D. Williamson and Magic City Books, honorees received a $250 gift card to Magic City Books to build their classroom library.

Read the full press release here and see the group photo here.

Nominations for Oklahoma’s 4th annual 20 Under 2: Novice Teaching Awards are now open!

The Teaching and Leading Initiative of Oklahoma launched the 20 Under 2 Novice Teaching Awards in 2019 to recognize the talent and dedication of Oklahoma’s newest teachers.  With nearly half of new teachers leaving the classroom and schools struggling to recruit highly-trained teacher candidates,  the 20 Under 2 awards acknowledge these difficulties, and honors 20 new, public school teachers whose emerging talents are needed now more than ever.

Hear from our Executive Director, Dr.Joanna Lein, on why our state’s newest teachers deserve to be recognized for their emerging strengths, talents and commitment to Oklahoma students.



Nominations are open now through February 15th. All full-time public school teachers in their first or second year of teaching or those who have returned to the classroom after ten or more years, are eligible. See full eligibility requirements here.

Join us in celebrating novice teachers who make Oklahoma’s future look bright by completing a nomination form today


Click here to see last year’s honorees. Please contact us  at


World Read Aloud Day

For the past 13 years, World Read Aloud Day has called attention to the importance of sharing stories by challenging participants to grab a book, find an audience, and read-aloud! The global effort, created by the non-profit LitWorld and sponsored by Scholastic, is celebrated annually in over 173 countries and is all about bringing people together through the shared connection of reading aloud in all of our communities.

In celebration of World Read Aloud day, we asked our Chief of Staff, Marissa King, about her recent reads, favorite memories, and suggestions for where to get the latest titles in celebration of #WRAD!

Q: What role does reading play in your daily life?

A: I’m a total sucker for a bookstore (Hi, Magic City Books and Fulton Street!). There’s just nothing else like it. I typically read about 40 books a year– a mix between audio and print. And obviously I read hundreds of books to my 3-year-old. He strongly prefers a full hour of reading every morning—more if he can get it- and it’s always what I’m doing while I drink that first cup of coffee. I get a strange amount of pleasure out of recommending books to people when I know what they’re interested in reading. I used to make suggested summer reading lists for former students and friends every year. And I love it when people tell me what they’re reading! 

I’m still an avid library user. Like I LOVE Tulsa City-County Library. I take my 3-year-old there regularly. I have the app. I get audio books from them. I reserve books online. I did the distanced pick-up during the pandemic. When I saw the very small amount of my taxes that went to TCCL, I was like, ooooh, they should up that. Getting a library card was one of the first things I did when I moved to Tulsa.

Q: What are some of your recent reads?

A: Over winter break I finished Transcendent Kingdom, How the Word Is Passed, and Salvage the Bones. Now I’m reading 100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internetthe Lost Art of Reading Nature’s SIgns, & Why We Make Things and Why It Matters. I have a strong penchant for nature books–recently read Fox & I and The Shepherd’s Life.

Q: What are your favorite memories around reading? 

A: As a kid, my mom would haul us into the town library and each of my siblings and I would choose an enormous stack of books. The library implemented a 20 books per person/per time rule because we checked out SO MANY BOOKS. I didn’t grow up with a TV, so we read ALL the books.

At TLI, we believe in the power of reading just like we believe in the power of research based professional development and our teachers! As a part of our annual 20 Under 2 Novice Teacher Award we celebrate and encourage a love of literacy by providing each honoree with a $250 gift card to Magic City Books.

Ways to spread a love of reading today!

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