Jill Andrews

Jill Andrews, English language arts teacher at Claremore High School, is the recipient of the Medal for Excellence in Secondary Teaching.

Andrews says she wants her students to “see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the literature.”

It isn’t unusual to find Andrews’ high school students building dioramas with Play-Doh, drinking nonalcoholic mead as they study “Beowulf,” or presenting self-designed coats of arms while dressed as a “Canterbury Tales” character.

“British literature has become my passion; I spend many hours outside the school day researching the literature, language, culture, music, and history of life in Great Britain because it is important to me to present a well-rounded glimpse into the British literature world for my students,” Andrews said.

Andrews has been voted favorite teacher by six of Claremore’s senior classes and earned District Teacher of the Year honors for 2016-2017. She serves as sponsor for two student support groups and is assistant coach for the academic bowl team. Andrews volunteers in the community as a youth soccer and softball coach, and she has organized a student voter registration drive.

Former student Zachary Noland said Andrews “champions the idea that education is more than learning what is written in textbooks: it is about discovering what makes someone Oklahoman.”

Noland now teaches alongside Andrews.

“Years later, I found my own approach to teaching is an emulation of her techniques,” Noland said. “She actively engages her students through group discussions, such as Socratic seminars; research projects that foster creativity, public speaking skills, and work ethic; and assigns thrilling novels that challenge the essence of our humanity.”

Andrews, a Claremore native and University of Oklahoma graduate, credits the influence of her ninth-grade art teacher, Linda Scudder.

“The inspiration Mrs. Scudder was to me is what I have yearned to be for others,” Andrews said. “She demonstrated acceptance and provided a safe place to create art; she allowed me to express myself both visually and linguistically. Because I knew she cared, I willingly took risks in her class. I willingly stretched my mind beyond what I ever thought I could achieve.

“Just as I took intellectual risks in Mrs. Scudder’s class, my students learn that my class is a safe place to take risks, to stretch their intellectual ability.”

Jill Andrews, 2024 Medal for Excellence recipient, is an English language arts teacher at Claremore High School.
Jill Andrews, 2024 Medal for Excellence recipient, is an English language arts teacher at Claremore High School.