Tuesday September 8, 2020

Oklahoma City district volunteer program launching soon

The start of the school year typically correlates with a large number of community volunteers signing up to work directly in Oklahoma City Public Schools in a variety of ways. Nothing about this school year is typical, so volunteering had to pivot as well. The Foundation for OKCPS has worked with OKCPS to develop plans for Virtual Volunteering, which will launch in early October.

Virtual volunteering will look and feel different than in-person volunteer work, but with the same goal of helping students academically, while developing mentorship relationships with them. Last year about 500 caring adults spent time each week with students across the district as Reading Buddies, primarily in elementary schools. We are expanding to secondary schools this year, and will focus efforts on third-12th grade.

Virtual volunteering will involve one adult paired with a small group of 3-4 students and will take place on Wednesdays for 30 minutes. It will happen through an online platform, and Reading Buddies will access online books to read and discuss.

Volunteers submit an application and background check authorization. Once approved, connection with a school site coordinator will be made, training will be coordinated, followed by connection with the student group. Students involved with virtual volunteers will have a signed consent form from their parent or guardian, and there will be transparency/recording of each virtual volunteer session to guarantee security.

The process is relatively simple, but a volunteer’s commitment to participate weekly is absolutely critical. Helping students increase their reading level is vital to their success in school and volunteers play a huge role by supplementing the teachers’ role.

Just as important is the consistent and positive interaction with a caring adult. For too many of our students this is the only one they have in their lives outside of their teachers and other school personnel. The mentorship and role modeling these relationships have over time can quite literally change the trajectory of a child’s life.

For more information on Virtual Volunteering/Reading Buddies, please contact abbie@okckids.com Please join us as a virtual volunteer and help change lives this school year.

Read Mary Mélon’s original Oklahoman editorial.

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