Rusty Atkins, Oklahoma State ’89, has been named Classroom Teacher of the Year by the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). The organization’s mission is to advance comprehensive, culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. Prior to this national recognition, Brother Atkins was named Teacher of the Year by the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education.
“Helping our youth obtain their goals, helping them find out who they are … or will become” is what Atkins says has inspired him to serve as an educator for the last 29 years. Atkins, who is an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation and is also a member of the Otoe Missouria tribe, teaches world history at Stillwater High School in Oklahoma, the same school he attended.
“Excited, nervous, honored,” is how Atkins described his feelings upon hearing he’d been chosen for the national award. “This makes me feel proud to be Native and excited to share the experience with my students. It also encourages me to be a better me each day.”
He was celebrated at an awards luncheon during the NIEA’s national convention in October 2021.
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