Foundation can reflect on 2017 with a sense of accomplishment
Recapping the past year provides a way to celebrate successes and to review meaningful data and define direction for the future. Focus, alignment and impact were words that continued to guide The Foundation for OKCPS’s work in 2017. This past year was another incredibly challenging one for public education. Budget cuts continued and teachers left our state in record numbers. Despite that, the Foundation’s work, thanks to generous community support along with a strategic, focused effort, has provided significant impact for Oklahoma City Public Schools in a variety of ways.
Our key focus areas, aligned with OKCPS’s greatest needs, are outlined below:
Providing innovative support to teachers
Our partnership with DonorsChoose.org continues to empower teachers to ask for and receive what they need in their classrooms. From basic supplies, books, athletic equipment, arts supplies to field trips, 848 projects were assisted by the Foundation and 1,771 additional projects were funded completely by citizen donors. We remain the largest education foundation partner that DonorsChoose.org has in the country.
Increasing community engagement and awareness
Partners in Action is our initiative connecting community partners with schools and their needs, posted by principals. Partnerships continued to flourish. Total financial impact so far is nearly $6 million, with more than 600 partner matches being completed.
Supporting English language programs
As the district’s Hispanic population continues to grow, English language learner, or ELL programs are increasingly important. The Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Project is funding college for 34 bilingual paraprofessionals working in the district to become certified teachers. Our first group begins student teaching next fall. We launch our Spanish for English speaking OKCPS staff next week and have provided multi-language technology to the district as a way to assist and engage families.
Teacher and leader professional development
The Foundation has supported the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy, a program developed and led by the University of Central Oklahoma to support newly certified teachers in OKCPS by providing mentorship and professional development. The average retention rates for these teachers over a fiveyear period is an impressive 86 percent, compared to 23 percent for new teachers not utilizing this training.
Educating the community about challenges and successes in public education, and especially OKCPS, is an important role and one the Foundation has taken on as a key focus. Highlighting ways OKCPS is a great investment that provides a rich educational experience for students are stories we don’t hear often enough. Efforts in this area will be evident in 2018.
The Foundation can reflect on 2017 with a sense of accomplishment in the areas of focus, alignment and impact. There is still much to be done and we look forward to continuing our important work with enthusiasm and hope. We see our work with a clear VISION of assisting OKCPS in being a world-class school district. We will provide VALUE in all we do for our schools and for our community partners who invest with us. And, we do this with one VOICE, speaking up for every student in Oklahoma City Public Schools. These are our schools. These are our kids. This is our city.