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20 Under 2: Celebrating Oklahoma’s Novice Teachers

A teacher’s first years in the classroom can be long and lonely. Learning to teach is a big, important job and yet the experience is also punctuated with unnecessary hurdles like low pay, large class sizes, and underfunded systems. 

It’s not surprising that so many novice teachers leave before they feel fully competent. In Oklahoma, one out of every five new teachers leaves after their first year. After five years, only about half remain in the classroom. 

Here at the Teaching & Leading Initiative, we’re obsessed with ways to support new teachers. Usually, that means concrete support like weekly coaching, practice-based professional development, or training leaders to work with new teachers. 

This year, we rolled out another way to support teachers: a big, public round of applause for top-achieving teachers. Meet the 20 Under 2 campaign, a list of twenty of the top novice teachers in Oklahoma and an ode to high-achieving novice teachers everywhere. 
Across the state, principals, veteran teachers, and district leaders submitted their top novice teachers for consideration. Each nomination was reviewed and scored by a panel of education professionals. The list below celebrates the top twenty nominees for outstanding classroom culture, academic results, and contributions to Oklahoma’s public schools. Find out more information about each honoree on our website.

  • Jeremy Britt | Tulsa Public Schools | McClure Elementary
  • Katie Burgess | McAlester Public Schools | McAlester High School
  • Christina Cook | Santa Fe South | Pathways Middle College
  • Brooke Copeland | Fort Gibson Public Schools | Fort Gibson Intermediate Elementary
  • Katherin (Kat) Evans | Deer Creek Public Schools | Grove Valley Elementary
  • Hannah Folks | Stilwell Public Schools | Stilwell High School
  • Kyle Foster | Jenks Public Schools | Jenks High School
  • Rachel Henderson | Kiefer Public Schools | Kiefer Upper Elementary
  • Kelsey Hicks | Broken Arrow Public Schools | Timber Ridge Elementary
  • Benjamin Imlay | Tulsa Public Schools | Collegiate Hall
  • BJ Jiles | Edmond Public Schools | Central Middle School
  • Lindsay Judd | Mid-Del Public Schools | Pleasant Hill Elementary
  • Kimberly Morgan | Pryor Public Schools | Lincoln Elementary
  • Sarah Muzny | Muskogee Public Schools | Muskogee High School
  • Sara Mote |Springer Public Schools | Springer Elementary
  • Audra Peterson | Anadarko Public Schools | Mission Elementary School
  • Olivia Wehmuller | Jennings Public Schools | Jennings Elementary
  • Jennifer Winchester | Bridge Creek Public Schools | Bridge Creek Middle School
  • Garrett Weir | Glenpool Public Schools | Glenpool High School
  • Austin Wood | Paoli Public Schools | Paoli Elementary School
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