Scholarship ProgramBixby Educational Endowment Foundation
Recognized for its scholarship/mentoring program, the Bixby Educational Endowment Foundation established its scholarship program in 1980 with a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior. Since then, the program has grown to annually provide 22 scholarships totaling more than $52,000, all of which are underwritten or endowed by individuals, organizations or businesses. What makes Bixby’s scholarship program unique is a “mentoring component” that provides advice and encouragement to scholarship recipients as they enter and complete their first year of college. During a summer reception, students receive tips for college success and are given contact information for board members as well as campus mentors who can answer questions and provide continued support. Foundation board members follow up with students throughout their college careers with letters of encouragement and birthday cards. Another component of the program, established in 2004, is a volunteer Scholarship Mentor, who visits the local high school weekly to aid high school seniors in the financial aid and college application process. “Our success is not only measured in our financial contribution to the Bixby High School students, but also by the support and encouragement we provide through recognition, mentoring and follow-up communication,” wrote Jayne Bowen, vice president of the foundation.
The Jenks Public School Foundation was selected for its sponsorship of a districtwide professional development program in classroom differentiation. Since the program began five years ago, 385 elementary and secondary teachers and administrators have received training on how to provide different learning strategies for the many different kinds of learners in their classrooms. The program is based on the Differentiated Classroom research of Carol Ann Tomlinson, who provides strategies and tools for educators to accommodate the diverse skills, interests and learning styles of their students. “The goal of the training is for teachers to become knowledgeable and comfortable using various differentiation strategies to improve student learning,” said Diane Bosworth, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “This training has changed how we teach across our district.”
The Oklahoma City Public School Foundation was honored for its Partners in Education Program, which seeks to recruit, support and retain 10,000 volunteer tutors/mentors by the year 2007 to serve Oklahoma City students. The foundation has partnered with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce to recruit businesses and has launched an intensive marketing campaign to promote the program throughout the metro area. Through its recruitment initiatives, the program has increased tutoring partnerships by 38 percent in the last two years. In 2005-06, the Partners in Education Program had approximately 2,200 volunteer tutors, ranging from local business people to retirees. Each volunteer spends at least an hour per week working with a student, primarily in reading and math. The foundation works with schools to match volunteers and provide training. Already, the program is being credited with helping to raise students’ test scores in reading and math. “Any teacher or principal will tell you that mentors and tutors are invaluable to the educational process,” said Superintendent Bob Moore. “When a student knows there is one person out there who is setting time aside each week to come and help them, they begin to view learning as fun and energizing. Some children even make education a higher priority in their life.”
The Putnam City Public Schools Foundation received the Outstanding LEF Program Award for its Author Visits Program, a project that gives the district’s 19,000-plus students an opportunity to interact with published authors and illustrators. The goal of the program is to improve academic achievement by increasing students’ interest in reading and writing. However, all areas of the curriculum benefit as teachers and library media specialists create units and hands-on, interactive activities that complement authors’ and illustrators’ subject matter. The program also provides free autographed books for many students. Caroline Gist, executive director of the foundation, reports that the author visits have had a meaningful impact on students. “According to the district’s library media specialists, author visits motivate students to read more. In advance of author visits, many students visit the media center asking for books written by the authors.” One librarian says the check-out rate of a visiting author’s books increased 140 percent above the previous year. Additional support for the Author Visits program is provided by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and the Sarkeys Foundation.