Fellowship applications are now available for Oklahoma fifth- and eighth-grade teachers interested in attending the 2020 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute next summer in the restored capital city of 18th-century Virginia. The fifth-grade institute is scheduled June 6-12, and the eighth-grade institute is scheduled June 13-19, 2020.  

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence coordinates the selection of Oklahoma teachers to participate in the renowned teacher institute. Applications are available on the foundation’s website at ofe.org. Completed applications must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2020.

The fellowships cover all program activities, airfare, lodging and most meals. Each teacher also receives a $300 stipend for classroom materials. While in Colonial Williamsburg – the world’s largest living history museum – Oklahoma teachers will have the opportunity to meet character interpreters of 18th-century people and be immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historic events. Participants also will meet daily with a Master Teacher to discuss interactive teaching techniques and develop creative lesson ideas based on their experiences.

“No textbook can replace the inspiration and knowledge gained by walking in the footsteps of early Americans, both famous and ordinary,” said Teacher Institute alumna Linda Goodnight of Wewoka. “Visualizing George Washington and his troops at Surrender Field, debating in the very courtroom where Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry pled the cause of liberty, and learning to make rope by hand in Jamestown colony will ignite my teaching – and my students – forever.

“The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute is by far the finest, most comprehensive teacher training I have ever attended,” Goodnight added.  “I am a better American and a better teacher because of it.”

Oklahoma’s fifth-grade teacher institute is open to fifth-grade social studies/history teachers and resource teachers, such as school librarians or gifted-talented teachers, who plan to teach U.S. history in their schools in 2019-2020. Their sessions will focus on the daily life of colonial Virginians and the transition from subject to citizen that occurred during the Revolutionary War period. Teachers will be immersed in content and hands-on activities that highlight the stories of the people who lived and worked in 18th-century Williamsburg.

Oklahoma eighth-grade classroom teachers who will teach U.S. history as part of their social studies curriculum can apply for fellowships to attend the Teacher Institute’s program for secondary teachers. Their sessions will examine how the concept of American identity began in the colonial period and continues to evolve and transform with each generation. Through inquiry-based analysis of primary sources, teachers will explore how that identity influenced American citizens to shape and change the Republic through the 1860s.

The fellowships are available to public and private school teachers. Participants are asked to share materials, skills and experiences with fellow teachers through two workshops or in-service programs upon their return from the institute.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has coordinated Oklahoma’s participation in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute since 1993. The program is made possible through the leadership and support of the late Oklahoma City businessman Edward C. Joullian III, who was an active supporter and former board member of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Joullian was also a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Joullian’s family, along with a group of loyal donors, continues to support the fellowship program, which has served more than 880 Oklahoma teachers.


OKLAHOMA CITY – A successful reading program for at-risk students, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and a novice teacher training program have been selected as recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Program Awards for Oklahoma School Foundations presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its Oklahoma School Foundations Network.

The awards, announced today at the Oklahoma School Foundation Network’s regional meeting in Lawton, recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma.

Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be the At-Risk Readers Program sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, the 50 for Fifty Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser sponsored by the Noble Public Schools Foundation and the Novice Teacher Support Program sponsored by the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.

“We are honoring these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities,” said Katy Leffel, director of the Oklahoma School Foundations Network. “In addition, we will recognize these program award winners among their peers at regional meetings so that other school foundations might emulate or adapt these ideas in their own school districts.”

At-Risk Readers Program
Bartlesville Education Promise

Statistics have shown that students who do not learn to read by the third grade are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. Recognizing that as many as 14 percent of Bartlesville third-graders did not pass the new, more difficult state reading test, Bartlesville Education Promise implemented an At-Risk Readers Program.

The reading program selects at-risk readers in all six elementary schools and provides after school tutoring, donates books for all elementary students to take home, and offers a summer reading program staffed by professional teachers. During the eight-week summer program, teachers worked with over 1,000 students and encouraged students to take a pledge to read at least one book over the summer. The foundation invested more than $38,000 last year in the reading program.

“As a result of significant after-school tutoring, encouragement of parents, providing reading books for home use, and an aggressive summer reading program, only four students were held back in third grade,” said Martin Garber Jr., chairman of Bartlesville Education Promise.

The Bartlesville Education Promise foundation was founded in 2015 to help Bartlesville Public Schools students graduate from high school and prepare for college and the workforce. More than 3,300 students participated last year in one or more of the foundation’s programs. Last year, the district graduation rate increased from 83 to 91 percent.


50 for Fifty Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
Noble Public Schools Foundatio

Noble Public Schools Foundation set a goal to raise $50,000 for their endowment fund and to also engage new donors with the foundation in an effort to raise awareness and commitment to supporting their mission.

They launched the 50 for Fifty campaign, calling on community members and alumni to engage their peers to help raise $1,000 on behalf of each of the 50 graduating classes from Noble. The foundation called on alumni to pay forward the advantages gained from their experiences in Noble Public Schools by raising funds to support current students.

The campaign utilized a peer-to-peer fundraising approach. Each graduating class had a team, with additional teams for non-alumni community members and staff. Team leaders shared the 50 for Fifty fundraising opportunity with their network of friends and classmates, asking them to share in turn with their own networks. Team leaders utilized many different methods of donor solicitation, from social media and text messages to phone calls and emails.

“This program engaged our supporter community by putting the ownership on their peer groups to reach a common goal of supporting our schools, together, as a team,” said Erika Wright, foundation president. “It fostered a healthy competition between classes, with each team having their own unique giving link and a leaderboard tracker to show who had raised the most at any given time during the campaign.”

The $50,000 fundraising campaign not only exceeded its goal, but also brought in 84 new donors and 24 new monthly donors.

Novice Teacher Support Program
Foundation for Tulsa Schools

To increase teacher retention, increase teacher content knowledge and strengthen student outcomes, the Foundation for Tulsa Schools began sponsoring the Novice Teacher Support Program in 2017-18. The program provides novice teachers enhanced on-boarding training, additional professional development and one-to-one mentorship from an experienced teacher mentor.

“A significant challenge facing Tulsa Public Schools is the hiring, training and retaining of quality teachers,” said Tulsa Superintendent Deborah A. Gist. “One of the most important factors in a student’s academic success is the quality of his or her teacher.”

Gist said 40 percent of Tulsa Public Schools’ teachers are novice teachers, defined as being in the first two years of their teaching career, with the district losing nearly 25 percent of teachers before they reach their sixth year of teaching. The district, with the support of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools, has faced the challenge head-on by increasing efforts to support novice teachers

Through the program, all novice teachers receive stipends to participate in additional monthly professional development days. The summer Novice Teacher induction was expanded from three to five days, allowing additional time for new teachers to go through new hire onboarding and receive more focused professional development and expanded breakout sessions. The Novice Teacher Support Program also increased the number of experienced teacher mentors to allow more one-on-one support for new educators.

“The primary measure of success for the Novice Teacher Support Program is an improved retention rate for novice teachers returning to the district,” Gist said, noting that the retention rate increased 7 percent in 2018-19 and 11.5 percent in 2019-20. This year, Tulsa Public Schools is financially supporting the program internally and continues to refine the program based on teacher feedback.

The Outstanding Program Awards are presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Among its many programs, the Foundation for Excellence provides free training, resources and networking opportunities to new and established public school foundations across the state through its Oklahoma School Foundations Network – formerly the Local Education Foundation Outreach program.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools, is seeking nominations for its 2020 Academic All-State Scholarships and Medal for Excellence Awards.

Scholarships and educator awards totaling $125,000 will be presented at the foundation’s 34th annual Academic Awards Banquet on May 16, 2020, at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in Norman. The event, which has been described as the “Academy Awards for public education in Oklahoma,” is attended by nearly 1,000 guests and is broadcast statewide on public television.

 “We know that education is the best investment our society can make for the future,” said David L. Boren, founder and chairman of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “If we make all of the right policy decisions in every other area but fail to adequately educate the next generation, we will imperil the future of our society. By working together to give outstanding students and educators the recognition they deserve, we send a strong message to our state and to the nation that Oklahomans value academic excellence.”

Academic Awards nominations are being accepted through an online portal at ofe.org in the following categories:

1.      Academic All-State, which honors 100 public high school seniors with a $1,000 merit-based scholarship. To qualify, students must meet at least one of the following requirements: a composite ACT score of at least 30; a combined SAT evidence-based reading & writing and math score of at least 1370; or be selected as a semi-finalist for a National Merit, National Achievement or National Hispanic Scholarship. Eligibility must be verified by the district superintendent or high school principal. Academic All-State nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

2.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Elementary/Secondary Teaching, which honors two educators – a public school elementary teacher and a secondary teacher.

3.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Elementary/Secondary Administration, which honors an exceptional public school administrator at the elementary or secondary level.

4.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University or Community College, which honors an innovative teacher at a public regional university or community college.

5.      The Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Research University, honoring an outstanding educator at a public research university.

Oklahoma Medal for Excellence honorees each receive a $5,000 cash award and a glass Roots and Wings sculpture. Anyone may nominate an educator for a Medal for Excellence Award. Nominees must be full-time employees of their public school or institution and have demonstrated excellence as an educator. All Medal for Excellence nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Scholarship and award recipients are chosen by an independent selection committee, chaired by retired Tulsa attorney Teresa B. Adwan, and comprised of business, education and civic leaders, as well as former Academic All-Staters and Medal for Excellence winners. Since 1987, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has awarded more than $4.8 million in academic awards and scholarships.

For more information, visit the foundation’s website at ofe.org or call (405) 236-0006.