Sheila Sturges stood alongside Highway 59 in Jay on Tuesday, April 3, with her three children.

Sturges, who coaches sixth to 12th graders in track and cross country at Jay Public Schools, was using the moment to not only be an educator protesting, but also to teach her children about the importance of her actions.

Sturges said she hoped Albe, 9, Ana, 7, and Lili, 11, would remember the moment for several reasons.

"It's important to stand up for your rights and what you believe in," Sturges said. "They [looking at her children] deserve an education. They deserve books that aren't falling apart. 

"I know we are a poor community, but our kids deserve an education - it's where it all starts."

Sturges said she continually reminds her children about the importance of learning.

"I say knowledge is power," she said. "This is our future."

Tammy Cornell, a K-4 instructor at Jay Elementary School agreed.

She stood on the sidewalk outside of the elementary school with her daughter, Logan, 9.

"I hope she sees by coming together, we can make a difference," Cornell said, adding that all classrooms need help obtaining books and would benefit from smaller class sizes.

"I keep telling her 'united we stand,'" Cornell said. "We have to stick together. This is a historic moment.

"[She can learn] it takes all of us to make a difference."

Audra Tate, who teaches advanced and art at Jay Middle School, stood in front of the Delaware County Courthouse, holding a sign reminding passerbyers if they could read it, it was because of a teacher.

She was joined by her son, Gavin, and his friend, Lucas Killion, both fifth graders at Jay Upper Elementary School.

"I hope [they] learn education is worth fighting for," Tate said. "Without education, the future of Oklahoma may crumble."

Thinking about others

Zoe Cunningham, a senior at Jay High School, stood outside the Delaware County Courthouse for the second day in a row, protesting alongside her teachers.

Cunningham said while she is graduating in May, she worries about the education her younger sister, and her nieces and nephews will receive in the future, if the legislature does not restore school funding.

"Kids in the future deserve a better education than what students now are getting," Cunningham said. "Education is underfunded and it needs to change.

"I want communities in Oklahoma to thrive in the future - and be better than what it is now."

Cunningham said she encouraged her teachers to travel to Oklahoma City to protest. 

"I've been united behind my teachers the whole time," Cunningham said. "We need funding to fix things. We need to stand with our teachers and show the legislature that students are in support of the walk out."