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Member Spotlight

'I’m pleased that I have been able to be a coach in such important ways – helping students, colleagues and my people.'

Mark Webb is a Science Teacher in Mustang, Oklahoma
Mark Webb Moses Mitchell
Published: 12/09/2022

I played basketball in high school and college, and while I knew I probably wouldn’t make it as a professional, I loved the sport and decided I might like coaching. So, I became a science teacher and a coach – of students. Then I went on to coach my colleagues too.

That coaching was through my union, the Mustang Education Association, where I have served as president, and through the Oklahoma Education Association, where I serve on the board of directors. I’ve tried to provide other members information and support, the way I have tried to direct the players I have coached. I also have encouraged our educators to work together as a team, which is so important in both sports and in a labor organization.

Beyond that, I’m one quarter Native American –  my tribe is the Muscogee (Creek) nation – and I wanted to support my culture and educate others about the customs of the Native American population and its history, which plays such a key role in our status and needs today. In effect, that involves more coaching.

All of this came naturally to me. Both my parents were teachers, so schools were a familiar place to me. They encouraged me to play sports and my family felt strongly about being proud of our heritage. They were also active in their union and saw its value – I remember going to union rallies as a child.

So, I became a science teacher and a coach along with an advocate for Native Americans and a leader in my union.

There have been many memorable events through my 21-year career in these roles – exciting games, success in the classroom and improvements in the status of the educators I serve.

I loved talking about my teams with my own high school coach and seeing my players improve and grow. I’ve enjoyed teaching science – and watching a student discover something new and get excited about a lesson – but then I also recall helping students process the horrors of 9-11 and the bombing of the Murrow building nearby in Oklahoma City.

I’ve loved working to improve the circumstances of my colleagues – most dramatically in a state-wide walk out in my first year as president of my local. We’ve fought for fair treatment of all professionals and now are working to prevent vouchers for private schools from damaging a good public school system and prevent paranoia about our curriculum from making it impossible to teach students the truth about history.

And it has been very satisfying to work on Native American issues, founding and directing a student group for Native American students in my school and heading the caucus for our people within our state union to increase awareness of our challenging history in this state and the issues that affect us, all while advocating for fair treatment and needed resources for Native Americans.

Coaching was the right route for me – and I’m pleased that I have been able to be a coach in such important ways – helping students, colleagues and my people. 

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.