Newcastle teacher D.J. Ward was welcomed into the school district during one of the most challenging teaching years.
"I came into the classroom. Most classes were cut in half,” Ward said. “Kids were being quarantined. Two weeks later, they would be back. Two days later, they would be gone.”
Teachers statewide had to learn and teach in a pandemic.
Ward taught Oklahoma History during his first year, but he still wanted to continue reaching students whether they were in the physical classroom or not.
"It was a learning experience, but I went for it," Ward said.
While teaching might have never been a thought, football has always been a part of his life.
Newcastle coach Jeff Brickman knew what Ward could bring to the program. Ward was also a proud Newcastle alum before he headed to The Palace on the Prairie at OU.
"OU is the tradition with the state. It runs deep,” Ward said. “So, when I teach, I lean into that.”
Ward was led by two of the most iconic coaches in OU history -- Bob Stoops and Lincoln Riley. Now, he's bringing the lessons learned to the classroom.
"Consistency. They are very consistent people,” Ward said. “Stern, fun to be around. And they are always having the same message.”