Distinguished Young Alumnus: Scott Filleman

By Josh Watson

Scott Filleman started the band program at Santa Fe South Schools in Oklahoma City in 2007. He had no budget. He had few instruments.

In less than five years, though, more than 300 students from 4th through 12th grade joined the band program and received a free instrument. Perhaps most impressive, the average GPA for band members was 3.7, while the overall school average was 2.5.

Scott’s success is even more inspiring in light of the challenges his students faced. Almost all of the school’s students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. Scott applied for every grant he could find and appealed to the community for used instruments.

Soon, support came in, and so did news reporters who told Scott’s inspiring story. Just last year, he received one of only two Butler-Cooley Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Turnaround Management Association. The national award honors teachers who have demonstrated their capacity to change the outcome of students’ lives.

“Christian education is its own mission field. We can provide students with a safe haven, and we can give them tools to reconcile faith with the online world they live in today.” Scott Filleman

Scott, a 2005 music education graduate, credits his OC education for preparing him to influence students for good.

“My time at OC was invaluable,” he said. “My professors asked questions about how my day went and they really meant it. They made me realize the story of education is not in a textbook or a test. The story of K-12 education is who we are as teachers. I want to recognize where students are and take them forward. I tell my senior class every year that if you have passion for what you do, you will be successful.”

Scott’s professors at OC are humbled by his praise, but they are not surprised by his success.

“Scott was one of the most dedicated students we’ve ever had,” Department of Music Chair Dr. Kathy Thompson said. “He put himself through school and became a model for our students, especially our student teachers. We’re so proud of his work in music education.”

OC Professor of Music Dr. John Fletcher agreed.

“Scott was a very diligent student,” Fletcher said. “He always wanted to know what was expected and how to exceed those expectations.”

Just a few months ago, Scott began a new chapter in his career. Oklahoma Christian Academy came to him with the opportunity to be its fine arts director.

Drawing on his experience as executive director of the nonprofit Children’s Art Network, Scott decided he was ready to reach even more students through the arts. Another benefit of the new position, according to Dr. Fletcher, is that Scott will be closer to the place he called home for four years.

“I am especially proud of what Scott is building at OCA,” Fletcher said. “He has already come to me with suggestions for partnerships and performances that will benefit both OC and OCA.”

Scott’s goals for Oklahoma Christian Academy relate to the foundation he received at OC.

“Christian education is its own mission field,” he said. “We can provide students with a safe haven, and we can give them tools to reconcile faith with the online world they live in today. It’s moving young people forward through their journey in life. I believe OC is creating graduates that can go out and be that beacon of light in their careers. OC is producing kingdom workers and doers of the word.”