One of Mustang High School’s two Teachers of the Year, Mark Webb, is a familiar face around the district and on social media. Webb, who is serving as president of the Mustang Education Association, was a district leader for both union and non union members alike while the tide turned for public education as teachers watched three revenue measures fail before choosing to take a stand at the Capitol for two weeks. Before, during and after the walk-out, Webb was there, making nightly video announcements, dispelling misconceptions, working with Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel and providing a calm voice during a turbulent time.
it was announced before Christmas that he was one of 14 Teachers of the Year
for Mustang Schools, Webb, who teaches geology and astronomy, was shocked.
“I was like, ‘I can’t be Teacher of the Year,’” he said. “All the people around me, they’ve been doing this forever. It’s the Tom Garners and Clay Bowmans. They’re the Teachers of the Year. They’re way better than I could ever be. They’ve been doing this forever.”
high school, Webb was a basketball standout at Norman High School. It was there
he found a mentor in Coach Doug Tolin.
“He taught me organization. He taught me how to be prepared for every situation,” Webb said. “Anytime we faced an opponent, he had a page or two of notes. He knew everything about it. I try to always be prepared like he was and always have an answer. Besides my mom and dad, I owe a lot to him. I was always on a basketball court somewhere and that type of teamwork and working together, led me down the road for what I was going to do in life.”
Webb’s first teaching/coaching job was at Byng, Oklahoma. His father’s health was declining, though, and Webb knew the time was coming when he would need to move back home. An assistant coach for Tolin remembered Webb helping coach at Norman and had taken the head coaching job. On Friday before he was to report for work at Byng on Monday, Webb got a call. He had an opportunity to coach at Norman.
“In a whirlwind weekend, we moved from Ada to Norman and didn’t look back,” he said. “I spent 11 years at Norman High School, coaching high school for eight years and freshman for two.”
He met his wife Rachel in 2007. She lived by Lake Hefner and Webb made the drive daily to Norman. Rachel, though, had other plans. She didn’t care for him spending so much time on the road. They moved to Mustang, and then Rachel became as efficient at marketing her husband as an agent offering up a player to different teams.
“She kept a watch on the openings,” he said. “She would tell me ‘this is open, this is open and this is open.’ It was open recruitment of me. I had an interview at Yukon. I had an interview at Bridgecreek. I had an interview Mustang.’”
jumped on an open geology and astronomy position at Mustang. He believed the
interview went well and the principals promised to call in two days.
“They called me back in an hour,” he said. “The hardest part of leaving Norman is that it’s home, but it was leaving one family and coming to another. It’s the same thing here, just different people. The science department here is amazing.”
2017-2018 school year itself has been amazing, starting with the eclipse.
“The whole first week we were getting ready for the eclipse,” he said. “I wanted all the kids to have a chance. Imagine, when an eclipse happened hundreds of year ago people were freaking out. They had no understanding. My astronomy classes made 50 or 60 pinhole telescopes. Everybody was helping. It was awesome and everybody was good - not looking up at the sun with no protection. You go outside and there are 1500 to 2000 kids all learning about astronomy. The year started on a high.”
roller coaster came after that. Members of his immediate family from his wife
to his father and more had serious health issues, one following another. Webb
would leave one hospital to go to another.
then the legislature voted down three different opportunities to fund a teacher
“Seeing plan after plan fail was tough,” he said. “Hearing the debate on the floor of the House about Step-Up Oklahoma and then seeing it defeated left me wondering if anything was ever going to get done.”
next step began to crystallize as the groundswell for a walkout gained
momentum. Webb found himself in a very public leadership role as the MEA
president, gathering information daily, synthesizing it and then putting it
back out to the masses. Rumors and misinformation abounded, which Webb tried to
correct every night of the teacher walk-out with a podcast.
“I love representing Mustang at the state and national level,” he said. “The fight continues though because some groups out there want to tear down what the legislature built up. We’ve had so many teachers leave Oklahoma, but if the veto referendum passes, it will be teachers leaving like Oklahomans left during the Dust Bowl era. I am proud to be a Bronco and hope to be one for a very long time.”
For Webb, he’s just doing what he’s supposed to do, representing teachers and taking care of the kids. When asked, he can’t name one kid who stands out, he can name hundreds.
“There are just so many kids,” he said. “Coming to this building everyday and seeing the kids - this is why you’re a teacher. Fame and fortune don’t come with being a teacher. It’s seeing the kids every day. It’s kind of therapy, helping the kids and seeing them do better.”
In his quiet, “aw shucks” way, he was shocked to be named one of the district’s Teachers of the Year.
“I’m a good teacher, but there are great ones around here,” he said. “There are just so many of them. I may not be the greatest, but I’m representing all these people and they’re outstanding. That’s what this year has been about to me - representing.”