Stillwater’s Rusty Atkins – Stillwater Teacher of the Month Presented by Simmons Bank

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By Antwan Woods

Rusty Atkins is currently a social studies teacher at Stillwater High School, as well as the head coach for the track and field team. Atkins has taught at Stillwater Public Schools for 27 years.  

Atkins earned his under grad from Oklahoma State University in social studies, in addition to physical education. He went on to attend SWOSU to earn his Master’s in Education Administration. He credits being the best he can be and his drive each day to the men and women in his life. 

“[I aspire] to be the best I can be each day. No one true individual, but a grouping of men and women who have instilled ethics in which I hold to be true and right,” Atkins told VYPE.   

Atkins got into teaching to inspire students to achieve their goals and to become productive members of society. Seeing a student achieve success is one of his favorite things about teaching. 

“I wanted to help students obtain their goals. Help them develop into productive citizens. Teach them how to become rational thinkers.” He said, “Seeing the students have success even if it is the smallest victory, we celebrate as if it was the greatest. I believe in my students. Getting them to believe in what they hold to be true, is special.” 

VYPE Picture - Rusty Atkins

Outside the classroom, Atkins has coached since 1986. He’s currently the head coach for the boys and girls track teams, as well as, the assistant coach for the cross-country team. Throughout the years as a coach, he has faced many challenges.  

“Balancing my time between coaching, teaching and family was challenging. When my daughter was in school, there were times when I had to miss her games, that was difficult.”  

Adkins has always put others first not only in his personal life, but also in his professional life. He doesn’t care about the championships or titles; he cares more about the personal connections and life impacts that he’s made on an individual.  

“For me, coaching was and will never be about me. It’s about the kids, their experiences, all about helping them. I didn’t get into coaching for personal goals. I can tell you about records, how many all-state kids, or how many have gone to the next level. For me, that’s not the measuring stick.” 

Atkins enjoys having his former athletes return and visit him. He finds joy in hearing about how they are doing and what is currently happening in their lives. Lastly, the thing he cherishes most is when the returning athletes continue to refer to him as “coach.”