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Broken Arrow teacher honored as one of Oklahoma’s “20 Under 2”

Picture of Kelsey Hicks and some of her students.Launch the first image gallery player

The Teaching & Leading Initiative of Oklahoma has named Kelsey Hicks, a third-grade teacher at Broken Arrow’s Timber Ridge Elementary, one of the top novice teachers in Oklahoma. Hicks was included on TLI’s inaugural 20 Under 2 list, which celebrates emerging teacher leaders, high performers and educators with two years of experience or fewer who make Oklahoma’s future look bright.

Hicks recently completed her second year at Timber Ridge, where she led her students to impressive academic gains and continues to lead a Kindness Club focused on improving school culture.

“From the very first day of school, Ms. Hicks stood out as an exceptional first-year teacher,” said Timber Ridge Elementary Principal Tiffany Green. “She seemed to have an instinctive ability to set classroom expectations while creating a strong rapport with her students to establish a safe learning environment. She is most deserving of this award.”

Hicks credits Jennifer Baek, one of her teachers while growing up in Houston, for inspiring her to choose a career in education.

“In her classroom, I was valued, respected and I knew I was cared for,” Hicks said. “I want to be a Mrs. Baek for all of my students. Each student brings so much life into our classroom and I hope they walk away feeling loved, just as I did.”

Hicks, a graduate of Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., says her favorite part of the day is the moment of affirmation as the final bell rings.

“When they leave the classroom, each child receives a hug, handshake or high-five,” she explained. “Whether they had a good day or a bad day, that last minute connection with them hopefully makes them look forward to the next day at school.”

Principals, veteran teachers and district leaders across Oklahoma submitted teachers for consideration. Each nomination was reviewed and scored by a panel of education professionals to determine the 20 honorees based on outstanding classroom culture, academic results and contributions to Oklahoma’s public schools.