Tuesday May 16, 2023

OKCPS paraprofessionals earn teaching degrees through OKCPS Foundation

OKCPS paraprofessionals earn teaching degrees through OKCPS Foundation

Nonprofit’s Bilingual and Diversity Teacher Pipeline Program empowers local paraprofessionals, strengthens metro public schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 10, 2023) –The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation yesterday hosted a graduation ceremony honoring the five newest graduates of its Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline Program. Thanks to the Foundation, these former paraprofessionals are graduating from college debt-free and will continue their teaching journeys within OKCPS, increasing the amount of diverse and bilingual educators for metro students and further fortifying local education.

Representatives from OKCPS, its Foundation and Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E), along with teachers, mentors, family members of graduates and other members of the community, gathered at the OKCPS Clara Luper Center for Educational Services to celebrate the five graduates and congratulate them on their academic achievements. Sponsored by OG&E, a longtime partner of the Foundation and local education advocate, the ceremony recognized pipeline participants past and present, highlighted the importance of passionate educators and celebrated the incredible achievements of the five recent graduates. As part of the Foundation’s Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline Program, each graduate started their journeys at OCCC, OSU-OKC or Rose State College, then completed and received their bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma at no personal cost.

“We are so proud of our newest graduates and can’t wait to see them teach, inspire and empower the next generation at OKCPS,” said Mary Mélon-Tully, president and CEO of The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation. “It is no easy task to earn a college degree while juggling full-time jobs, family commitments, and other obligations,  but our participants face this challenge head-on because of their passion for education and desire to shape a better, brighter future for local students and their families.”

The 2023 Spring Bilingual and Diversity Teacher Pipeline Program graduates are:

  • Fernando Baquera Ochoa – Bilingual Teacher Pipeline
  • Isamar Flores – Bilingual Teacher Pipeline
  • Clara Sanchez – Bilingual Teacher Pipeline
  • Norma Torres – Bilingual Teacher Pipeline
  • Lenina Wright – Diversity Teacher Pipeline

Including this year’s graduates, a total of 18 participants have successfully completed the program and graduated with degrees in higher education. There are currently 59 participants who are in the process of completing the program.

“The Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs not only help us retain passionate OKCPS paraprofessionals, but also provide critical support for our unique and diverse student population,” OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel said. “Research shows that students thrive more in the classroom when their teachers come from similar cultural backgrounds. We are grateful for the innovative leadership of the OKCPS Foundation and the generosity of our community partners, like OG&E and others,  who champion these programs. The impact is sure to be felt both inside and outside the classroom.”

Established in 2016, the OKCPS Foundation’s Bilingual and Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs were created to develop a diverse teacher workforce within OKCPS that mirrors the district’s student population and addresses the current nationwide teacher shortage. Thanks to the success of these programs, the Foundation has expanded the curriculum to include an OKCPS High School to Teacher Pipeline and an Aspiring Administrator Pipeline.

OG&E has been a committed donor of the Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs since 2016. OG&E Chairman, President & CEO Sean Trauschke expressed gratitude for the graduates’ commitment to teaching and inspiring future generations.

“Since its inception, we have witnessed firsthand the way the program has flourished and changed so many lives,” Trauschke said. “In the midst of a statewide teacher shortage, the OKCPS Foundation’s Teacher Pipeline Programs successfully empower paraprofessionals to advance their education, which then benefits our community as a whole. We cannot wait to see how the Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs continue to initiate generational change to Oklahoma City and beyond.”

The application deadline for fall participants in the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs is May 15. Donations from the community for the pipeline programs are always accepted at okckids.com/donate.

More information about the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation’s Teacher & Leader Pipeline Programs and how to apply can be found at ww.okckids.com/teacher-pipeline-programs/.



Created in 1984, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance excellence, advocate for equity, and build strong community support for lasting success in Oklahoma City Public Schools. The Foundation works closely with the district and business community to align strategies and priorities for sustained performance improvement. Please visit us online at www.okckids.com for more information on our focus areas and volunteer and giving opportunities.

Media Contact

Beth Harrison | Gooden Group | 405-625-5258 | bharrison@goodengroup.com

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