Stilwell Public Schools Teacher Honored in ‘20 Under 2 List’

08/02/2020 02:00 PM
STILWELL – The Teaching & Leading Initiative of Oklahoma has honored 20 of the top novice teachers in the state in the second annual “20 Under 2 list,” a list of promising new Oklahoma teachers.

The honorees include Stillwell Public Schools teacher and Cherokee Nation citizen Faith Marie Phillips. This list celebrates emerging teacher leaders, high performers and novice educators who make Oklahoma’s future look bright.

Phillips is an English teacher at Stillwell High School who teaches creative writing and world literature.

“The senior class researched, wrote and produced a podcast about our town called ‘Strawberries in the Death Capital?’ wherein they worked to disprove a Washington Post article that identified Stilwell, Oklahoma, as the ‘early death capital of the U.S.’ Their work was selected as a finalist out of 2,000 entries by National Public Radio. They interviewed dozens of elected officials, agency heads and community leaders. The final product was a piece of investigative journalism that caught the attention of national reporters and praise from NPR reporter Sequoia Carrillo,” Phillips said when reflecting about her first year.

Across the state, principals, veteran teachers and district leaders submitted their top novice teachers for consideration. Each nomination from principals and colleagues was reviewed and scored by a panel of education professionals. Each honoree was selected for outstanding classroom culture, academic results and contributions to Oklahoma’s public schools.

Stillwell High School Principal Matthew Brunk praised Ms. Phillips’ dedication to her students and community.

“Ms. Phillips is a life changer for our students, she went above and beyond for our students, school and community during her first year as a teacher,” he said.

Phillips, who is a graduate of University of Oklahoma College of Law, is an emergency certified teacher in her first year in the classroom. She is the author of four books.

“Now more than ever we need to celebrate excellent educators. As the coronavirus changes the way we live, work and learn, teachers are guiding students and families through these challenging times,” said TLI Executive Director Jo Lein. “It’s exciting to honor some of the bright, accomplished novice teachers in our state. Our kids need excellent novice educators to stay in the profession and we hope that they will continue to brighten the future for Oklahoma children.”

During the past school year there were more than 4,000 emergency certifications in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, one out of every five new teachers leaves after their first year. After five years, only about half remain in the classroom.

Headquartered in Tulsa, the Teaching and Leading Initiative of Oklahoma is a nonprofit organization that partners with school districts to address human capital needs including novice teacher training and leadership development.


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