Whiz Kids Oklahoma
Whiz Kids Oklahoma has nominated Karen Mickle as its outstanding mentor of the year for Oklahoma Mentor Day.
Whiz Kids is a faith-based, one-on-one volunteer tutoring/mentoring program that focuses on first- through sixth-grade students who live in areas with some of the highest drop-out rates and lowest socioeconomic levels in Oklahoma City. Whiz Kids is proactive and preventative in nature, targeting inner-city schools and students who are reading below grade level and who could benefit most from a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
Karen serves as the coordinator for the Whiz Kids Site at Olivet Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and has been volunteering with Whiz Kids for over 10 years. In 2004, Karen and her daughter, Katie, were introduced to April and her sister Bianka, both students at Eugene Field Elementary School.
Karen and her daughter began having weekly tutoring sessions with April and Bianka and soon developed a good relationship with the sisters. The mentors went to teacher conferences, sat in on the girls’ classes, chaperoned class field trips, baked Christmas cookies together and worked on science fair projects.
Whiz Kids graduate at the end of fifth grade.
“But when April was at that point, we couldn’t just ‘quit’,” Karen said. “How can you walk away from someone you hold dear? So we agreed to continue meeting together during the Whiz Kids time. And then Bianka was ready for sixth grade so we arranged for her to keep working with us too.”
Karen has helped April and Bianka in many ways throughout the years; from assisting them with homework to helping them apply for college. Both April and Bianka now attend The University of Oklahoma.
“While we didn’t set out with the intent of developing a lifelong relationship, God led us together and kept us close,” Karen said. “My other children consider April and Bianka family, as well. My kids are Bethany, Katie, Nathan, April and Bianka. Yes, the girls have their ‘first’ family. But they are also part of ours, too.”