If you have been involved in the Yukon community for the past 33 years, there is one name that you have most likely heard echoed throughout the town … “Mr. A.”
Darryl Andrews, or as many Yukon High School students past and present know him, “Mr. A” has been a fixture in the Yukon community since 1985 when he taught his first class at Yukon High School as a substitute teacher right out of college.
Andrews is a native of Lawton, but he and his family moved to Yukon when he was an 11-year-old fourth-grade student. He graduated from Yukon High School in 1981 and then attended El Reno Junior College (now Redlands Community College) on a livestock judging scholarship.
Andrews was heavily involved in the FFA and agriculture departments throughout high school and he took that passion to the college ranks. He received his associate’s degree in agriculture and pre-agriculture from El Reno Junior College and then decided to move on to Cameron University in Lawton.
Andrews received another scholarship in livestock judging, but it was at Cameron where he found his true calling … education. He was a triple-major at Cameron in agronomy, animal science and agriculture education.
On top of going to school, Andrews worked at a church camp and after he graduated, he wanted to continue to do that, so he became a substitute teacher at Yukon High School rather than becoming a full-time educator.
From 1985 until the end of the year in 1987, Andrews was a substitute teacher and then was presented an opportunity to become a full-time physical science teacher beginning in the spring semester of 1988.
After several conversion tests to earn his full-time teaching certificate, his career was well on its way.
Andrews spent the next 20-25 years teaching physical science and quickly became one of the more popular teachers at Yukon High School.
“I enjoyed the hands-on activities that physical science allowed and I became known as the teacher who blew things up,” Andrews said laughing.
Two decades ago, a man by the name of Kent Mathers came to Yukon from Putnam City and brought with him an idea that would change Yukon High School and Andrews’ life for good.
“He (Kent Mathers) had a desire to start a leadership class,” Andrews said. “It was a community service-based class that was open to anyone who wanted to do it.”
Andrews had experience in leadership through his time working at numerous church camps and several experiences while he was in college.
The new class at Yukon was designed to teach students how to be successful leaders in society and to build their confidence through a variety of activities and opportunities for them to learn in the community.
During that time, Andrews also assumed the role of directing the Yukon High School Student Council (STUCO).
“The numbers in the classes grew each year and I went from teaching physical science part of the day and leadership part of the day to teaching leadership full time and directing STUCO,” Andrews said.
Andrews is now the Leadership/Student Council/Activities Director at Yukon High School.
Andrews has taken the Yukon High School Student Council program to new heights under his watch. Five years ago, Yukon hosted the State STUCO Convention and will potentially do so again in 2020.
Traditionally, STUCO programs have consisted of elected members, but Andrews has found a way to give other students a chance to experience the STUCO world.
Yukon now has what is called STUCO members at large, which are students that are still considered STUCO members but don’t have the amount of time to invest that a traditional STUCO member has because of other activities those students are involved with at Yukon.
Yukon’s STUCO program has grown from roughly 26 students to 75 under Andrews’ watch.
Yukon High School head principle Melissa Barlow said she has known Andrews for a long time.
“When I was getting my degree in education, I observed his classroom,” she said. “How does he do it? He is always doing what is right for the students. As a school, one of our goals is to give back to the community because the community does so much for us. Darryl leads the way in that category. He is our ‘go to’ person when it comes to giving back to the community. He is always willing to give back and he gives his kids awesome leadership opportunities.”
The summer time is usually a time for teachers to take a break and rejuvenate before the new academic year begins in August, but Andrews does the opposite.
Throughout the summer months, Andrews is taking trip-after-trip attending state-wide and national events with his STUCO and leadership students.
“All-in-all, I home about 10 days during the summer,” Andrews said. “We call it a family. ‘OHANA’ is a key phrase and it means no one left behind or forgotten. 33 years of teaching has given me a place in this world. My dad was a teacher in Lawton before he passed away in a car wreck in 1973. I just had it in me to teach. It gives me a family. We call this home and we are one big family.”
Andrews never married but said he has 150 kids every day.
“I love to celebrate my students’ successes,” he said.
Like so many teachers do, Andrews did at one point consider pursuing an administrative role in education, but he said he decided he was happy where he was at as a teacher.
“I have learned what is really important,” Andrews said. “I have learned I can do a whole lot more than I thought I ever could. To be honest, I learn more from the kids than they learn from me. You never stop learning.”
When asked what he advice he would give to the new, young teachers coming into the profession, he said making connections and being happy with what you do is most important.
“If you are unhappy and don’t like it, don’t stay in it,” he said. “The kids can tell. If you like being here, they see that and will do anything for you. More times than not, the kids will mimic a lot of what you exhibit. If you decide you want to do it, do it with your heart. Love what you do and do what you love. Focus on the positives. Don’t listen to the outside noise. No one ever got into education to get rich. I believe this is an undervalued profession, but it is one of the most important ones we have.”
One of the more noticeable items that Andrews is carrying around 24/7 is the burn bracelets he wears on his right arm.
“I started this about 23 or 24 years ago,” he said. “They are just symbolic of the time you spend serving the community in a meaningful way and the relationships you build along the journey. In leadership, you don’t say ‘goodbye’, you say ‘see you later’.”
Being in the Yukon community as long as Andrews has, he has seen the school district, city and overall community change in big ways.
“It’s drastically changed,” he said. “Just because of the sheer numbers in the school district, it’s more of a business now. In 1981, we all knew everyone and all the students knew every one of the teachers. Everyone in the city knew everyone. The city still has a small-town feel, just a little more distance now. There used to be about 60-70 staff members at Yukon High School and now we have around 180.”
Despite the massive growth that Yukon has seen over the past four decades, Andrews says he is constantly reminding his students how blessed they are to be in this community.
“The kids are lucky to be where they are,” he said. “They are fortunate to live here and have the things they have. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege and I try to tell them that as much as possible. We have been to other schools where students are not so fortunate and it really opens their eyes.”
Barlow said Andrews gives of himself tirelessly.
“He has enabled us to create an environment unlike anything else,” she said. “Every month, there is a chance for us to give back to the community and Darryl makes that happen. He is amazing at instilling leadership values and he has touched so many lives. Mr. A is the life blood of what we do at Yukon High School.”
Andrews’ career awards and accomplishments:
– California Association of Directors of Activities – “Lifetime Member Award” 2017
– California Association of Directors of Activities – “Bob Burton Spirit Award” 2017
– Yukon Chamber “H.B. Frank – Citizen of the Year” 2017
– Yukon Chamber “Volunteer of the Year Award”
– Yukon Sharing Ministries “Volunteer of the Year” 2012
– Warren E. Shull National Student Council Advisor of the Year – Region 6 2007
– Yukon High School freshmen and sophomore Yukon Mid-High Teacher of the Year 1990-1991, 1996-1997 and 2006-2007
– Warren E. Shull State Student Council Advisor of the Year – Oklahoma 2006
– Oklahoma Association of Student Councils District 8 Advisor of the Year 2006
– Maurice P. Walraven Award – Oklahoma Directors of Special Services 2006
– National Community Education Association, Youth Leadership Award 2005
– Capital Area Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year 2005
– Oklahoma Community Education Association, Youth Leadership Award 2004
– Milken Family Foundation Education Award 2004
– FOX/CW “Teacher of the Month” 2004