Who Will Be Marlow’s Teacher of the Year?

by Toni Hopper
James Brown is the high school nominee for the Marlow Teacher of the Year 2023.
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Three teachers with experience ranging from two years to 22 years in the classroom have been nominated for the Teacher of the Year honor. They will have to wait until the last day of school to find out who will receive the distinguished title. The announcement will be made at 8 a.m., Friday, May 19, at the year-end breakfast for the faculty and staff.

An Outlaw for life, James Brown is the high school nominee and has 22 years of teaching. He teaches American History and is the boys golf coach this year. Brown grew up in Marlow, went to college and didn’t know he was ready to return home. It was a phone call that changed his direction.

“I was actually headed to Amarillo, Texas, but Coach Kirk Harris called me my last semester in college and said that Coach Ridley was going to get out of basketball if I wanted to come back and be his assistant and so I came back.” He’s candid with his responses. “I left for a couple of years, found some bad administrators and found my way back home where people treat each other the right way.” If there were changes to be made, he believes it would begin with the political side of the job.

“Politicians keep trying to hold our kids hostage in the name of giving the rich back their money. Instead of treating the kids the same, politics is making the old saying come true, the rich get richer, meanwhile the public schools outside the cities are being treated as if they don’t matter. So, the political side needs to change.”

He enjoys life in Marlow, with his wife, Brenda. Teaching continues to be a rewarding experience for Brown.

“Coach Ridley taught me how to listen and just talk to students like they are the most important person around. Coach Harris has invested his time and friendship helping me develop as a teacher and coach. I have fun with my peers and enjoy it when students come back and let me know that I have helped them in their lives.”

Lisa Anderson may not be originally from Marlow, but she, like many others in recent years, chose to make Outlaw Country her home. Teaching for 12 years, she’s found 3rd graders eager learners.

“Seeing the growth my kids make at the end of the year … not only academically, but as well, as them as a person. I love building relationships with each of my students. I enjoy learning what makes them unique and special in their own ways. I enjoy letting kids navigate ways to problem solve and listening/prompting them with conversations to be successful problem solvers within the classroom.” Anderson moved to Marlow in 2011 and said she was welcomed with open arms. The school district came with great reviews and the support in Marlow is something few get to experience. “I am so glad to be a part of it.”

Regarding change in the profession: “If I could change one thing about the education profession, it would be to have the proper funding our students and teachers deserve. Proper funding is crucial for ensuring students receive a high-quality education. We would be able to hire & retain high quality teachers, provide adequate learning resources, and offer extracurricular activities to enrich students’ learning.”

Anderson credits her freshman year science teacher, Mr. Keilty, for inspiring her to become a teacher.

“He believed in us, challenged us, and made us feel like the door was always open. Mr. Keilty always ended class saying, “Dream Big Dreams,” and to this day I still use those words in my everyday life. Earning the nomination solidifies her professional choice.

“I work with some of the best teachers. They put up with my crazy goals and work as a team to accomplish these goals. It truly is an honor to have my colleagues believe in me as an educator.”

Lisa has two sons and is engaged to Joe Hennan.

Heather Holding, the ELA teacher for 8th grade, is the middle school nominee. A 1994 MHS graduate, she is married to Brook Holding and they have two children. She encourages her students to discover reading and writing are fun and provide a foundation they need to be successful in their academic careers and beyond. On being nominated, she said, “It is so humbling for my peers to have voted for me especially when I ask them for advice so often. It is just another way that the educators at

the middle school continue to support and encourage me.”

If she could change something about the teaching profession, she would like to see administrators, educators, and support staff to be appreciated for the many ways they educate students.

Two teachers have made a lasting impact on Holding. “The late, great Susan Peterson was so inspirational to me. Not only was she my student council sponsor, she introduced me to a more sophisticated way of analyzing literature. She single-handedly helped me raise my ACT score and demonstrated how an educator can bring

joy to their subject area,” she said. “Another teacher that has had an enormous impact on my life is Paula McConnell. I have used what she taught me about public speaking every day. I was a better employee and now I am a better educator because of what I learned from Ms. McConnell.”

Special thanks to MPS Assistant Superintendent Brenda Parker-Tillian for compiling the questions and answers provided to The Review for this article. The original answers will be available in their entirety on our website.

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