Monday July 10, 2023
Please Be Part of Providing Our Kids with Opportunities for Success
Despite the fact that it is the mid-point of summer, there really isn’t much slowing down in the world of public education. ReadOKC, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation’s reading and literacy program is in prime recruiting mode for caring adults to serve our students during the upcoming school year. Reading Buddies work with our elementary school kids and Book Clubs are hosted by volunteers in the secondary schools.
Each volunteer is partnered with a small group of students and they stay connected throughout the entire school year. Each session is about 30-45 minutes and is scheduled once per week during the school day. The time includes reading specific books together for the elementary groups and independently with discussions for the secondary groups. School connections are made by the OKCPS Foundation and we work with the schools to make the student connections. Volunteers don’t have to be educators to be ReadOKC Reading Buddies or Book Club Hosts. Training is provided by the Foundation and background checks are required by OKCPS.
That’s the nuts and bolts part of the program and that is important as anyone decides whether or not to volunteer. What’s missing in the nuts and bolts is the why. The why is all about the meaningful relationships that are made and the trust that is built between the volunteer and the students. Instilling a love of reading is the mission of ReadOKC, and the weekly sessions are a great way to read together, talk about vocabulary, content and thematic context of books. It is also a wonderful way for kids to understand that there are people in the community who care about them enough to show up every week. That may seem like a small thing, but too many students in our city view school as the place where they feel the safest and most cared for. Having an outside person come into the school building and build a consistent relationship with them based on trust is quite significant. In addition to building reading skills and building trusting relationships with caring adults, our kids involved with this program are more likely to show up for school and participate, and less likely to have disciplinary problems. They notice when their volunteer doesn’t show up, so the commitment is real.
Our schools can’t do it alone and there is no better way to gain an understanding of all the good happening in public education than by spending time in our schools. You’ll see the challenges that our educators face and you’ll see some of the dire circumstances that our kids face every day. But, you’ll also see that we have incredibly professional teachers, leaders and support staff. And, we have the most amazing and beautiful children who deserve only the best opportunities for success. We hope you’ll be part of it. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Mary Mélon-Tully, President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation.