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Presenting the 2021 20 Under 2 Honorees!

Twenty of Oklahoma’s most talented novice teachers have been chosen as this year’s 2021 20 Under 2 honorees for the third annual 20 Under 2 Novice Teaching Awards. The 20 Under 2 Novice Teaching Awards hosted by the Teaching and Leading Initiative of Oklahoma, celebrate emerging teachers who are setting the pace for excellent teaching and make Oklahoma’s future look bright. 

Across the state, principals, veteran teachers, and district leaders submitted their top novice teachers for consideration. Each nomination was reviewed by a committee of education professionals and chosen through a multi-stage selection process. The 20 honorees were selected for outstanding classroom culture, for fostering academic success, and for their commitment to Oklahoma students and communities.

The 20 Under 2 Novice Teaching Awards were created to recognize the talent and dedication of Oklahoma’s newest teachers amidst a challenging landscape. In recent years, Oklahoma educators have grappled with limited resources, large class sizes, and low pay, and this year teachers faced a global pandemic along with new forms of distance learning. For educators just beginning their profession, these challenges are especially difficult. After five years, only about half of new teachers remain in the classroom and schools struggle to recruit high-quality teacher candidates. The 20 Under 2 awards acknowledges these difficulties, and honors new teachers’ whose emerging strengths and talents are needed now more than ever. 

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Thanks to the generous support of T.D. Williamson and Magic City Books, 20 Under 2 honorees will receive a $250 gift card to Magic City Books to build their classroom library. Honorees will also receive a gift box that includes a custom 20 Under 2 plaque, a Round Table membership from Magic City Books, a custom notebook and other goodies.   

“Celebrating this year’s 20 Under 2 honorees is a bright spot amidst an especially difficult year. Oklahoma’s 2021 honorees have not only persisted through the pandemic, but their tremendous skill, hard work, and dedication has distinguished them as some of our most promising educators,” said TLI Executive Director Dr. Joanna Lein. “It is critical that we continue to find ways to invest in our state’s teaching talent because our students deserve the most skillful and experienced educators.” 

The 2021 20 Under 2 Honorees are:

Abby Messick, Crooked Oak Public Schools

Addison Lambert, Sand Springs Public Schools

Alice L. Lee, Jennings Public Schools

Allison Kirkley, Muskogee Public Schools

Ashli Robinson, El Reno Public Schools

Blake Karr, Fort Gibson Public Schools

Caitlyn Spoonemore, Grandfield Public Schools

Christina Beverage, Oklahoma City Public Schools

Ellen Florek, Tulsa Public Schools

Emily Gonzalez, Mid-Del School District

Henry Mitchel Bibelheimer, Haskell Public Schools

Jarred Bush, Cushing Public Schools

Kaitlin Wright, Okmulgee Public Schools

Kaitlyn Hull, Lawton Public Schools

Katherine D. Downing, Grove Public Schools

Lauren Kelly, Varnum Public Schools

Leighton Loch, Ponca City Public Schools

Morgan Dragg, Norman Public Schools

Ray’Chel Wilson, KIPP Tulsa

Yesenia Vera , Guymon Public Schools

Click here for the press release and group photo. For additional information please contact Rebecca Fine at

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