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.
For more information, contact Katy Leffel at (405) 236-0006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.