Thursday January 5, 2023
New Year 365 Opportunities
The needs that many children and families face each day in our community are enormous and our schools are challenged with so much more than just educating our children. Thinking that schools can fix every societal problem -from generational poverty to food insecurity, to mental health, trauma and absent fathers is absurd. Yet our educators welcome each and every child into our school buildings every day, no matter what they have faced at home. They don’t make excuses, they love and support their kids, our kids. Our job as a community is to collaborate strategically and help our schools fill the gaps – short and long term – to create the greatest opportunities for the success of our students.
The ringing in of a new year is a great time for reflection and resetting of goals and priorities. In the world of public education foundation work, there is much to reflect on and many reminders that there is still so much to do. The work of a school district is complex and the role the community plays in understanding the complexities and providing support in strategic yet meaningful ways is critically important. The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation is proud to serve as a community convener and advocate for OKCPS. Highlighting some of our impact in 2022 is worthwhile as we start the new year.
Our “grow your own” Bilingual and Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs continue to gain momentum as we work to increase the diverse teacher and leader workforce in Oklahoma City Public Schools by giving valued OKCPS employees the chance to finish college and earn their teaching certificate – with no debt – all while staying employed full time. This year, we have our first participant in the High School to Teacher Pipeline Program, an initiative put in place for graduating OKCPS seniors who wish to become educators. In May, we celebrated five new graduates which brings us to 13 who now lead their very own classrooms with 57 currently working toward their teaching degree. In August we launched our Aspiring Administrator Pipeline for our first cohort of ten diverse, certified teachers working toward their Master’s degree in order to be building leaders.
ReadOKC, our program aimed at instilling the love of reading in our students and in our community continues to grow. Since ReadOKC began in 2017, OKCPS students have logged over 32 million minutes during reading challenges, and we currently have 67 Little Libraries, including one at every single school in the district. And, in just one year we have provided more than 23,000 books to students who have visited our ReadOKC Book Bus to select a book of their choice to take home.
The OKCPS Foundation remains the largest education foundation partner for DonorsChoose in the country, providing more than $9 million in support to OKCPS classrooms since 2014.
In November, we took a stand and advocated for the OKCPS School Bond, which will ultimately invest $955 million to create and elevate opportunities for current and future OKCPS students. All cities invest in public projects to improve the quality of life for its citizens and public education is no different.
Our Coat-A-Kid program provided more than 6,000 new, warm winter coats to OKCPS students in need just as the cold weather arrived.
That’s a lot to celebrate, but there is still so much to do. Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” We have a purpose that is great and a roadmap to follow, possible only with the help of our community partners.
Our primary goal is to create change and impact by helping meet the needs of Oklahoma City Public Schools, all while celebrating the diversity that makes us so special. What does a new year bring? 365 opportunities to do this work and remember that schools can’t do it alone.