OFE News Release
The Faith Community Can Change the Future through Mentoring
|Masie Bross is the director of Whiz Kids and serves on the advisory committee for the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, which promotes the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs in Oklahoma. Gov. Mary Fallin has declared January as Mentoring Month in Oklahoma.|
By Masie Bross, director, Whiz Kids Tutoring and Mentoring
The Whiz Kids program is blessed to partner with nearly 60 churches in the greater metro area to provide individual mentors for hundreds of Oklahoma City’s most at-risk elementary students. Our mentors meet weekly with their Whiz Kids throughout the school year and often stay with the same child for up to five years.
As a literacy-focused program, reading is our number-one mission, but the relationship that develops between mentor and child means that educational improvement is not all that happens. Amazing things have occurred through the mentor/child relationships built in Whiz Kids: better reading scores, more confidence in school, character development, even such miracles as adoptions and children being the first in their families to graduate from high school and even college!
The relationship between Stephanie Coldiron and Cameron Wilson is typical for Whiz Kids. In August, Stephanie, a retired parole officer and member at Life Church in Edmond, was paired with Cameron, a third grader from Thelma Parks Elementary in northeast Oklahoma City. Cameron was, in the words of his teacher, “mad at the world.” He was not only doing poorly in school, but also frequently got into trouble and constantly had a frown on his face.
However, as Cameron met with his mentor each week at Tabernacle Baptist Church, a local church in his neighborhood and Whiz Kids tutoring site, his confidence grew, not just in reading, but also in standing up for what is right. Teachers began to notice him being a leader among his peers, asking classmates to refer to teachers as “ma’am” and “sir” and scolding boys in his class for not letting the girls go out the door first.
His reading proficiency is now on grade level, and he passed his benchmark test for December. Perhaps most telling is that he recently earned a coveted honor at Thelma Parks Elementary, “Most Improved Student,” which he received in an assembly in front of the whole school. Cameron says about the award, “It made me proud of myself.” Cameron’s teacher, Tamia Taylor, gets tears in her eyes when talking about the difference Whiz Kids is making for Cameron and many other children at her school and around the city. She says, “What mentors give these children is a gift – a gift of their time and energy and talents. I want them to see that so many kids like Cameron are out there...waiting for that gift and waiting for someone to help unlock the gifts inside themselves.”
This is the mentoring story! And while Whiz Kids is proud to serve nearly 850 students this year, Oklahoma City Public Schools officials estimates that in their district alone, there are 20,000 who need a mentor. I encourage individuals, corporations and churches to join us in this life-changing work and make a difference for more of Oklahoma’s children.
For more information about Whiz Kids, visit www.whizkidsok.org or call (405) 602-2815. To learn more about other mentoring opportunities in Oklahoma, log on to www.okmentors.org or call (405) 236-0006.