Whiz Kids Oklahoma, Oklahoma City
For the past eight years, Sharon Boone has been a dedicated mentor for Whiz Kids Oklahoma, where she has made a true difference in the lives of many students, helping them become stronger readers and passing hope and love into their lives.
Boone, a book keeper from Choctaw, tutors and mentors students from Crutcho Elementary School at Meadowood Baptist Church in Midwest City. She served as a mentor to Issac Borty for five years; mentored Shawnta, an eighth-grader, in 2017-18; and currently is a mentor to fourth-grader Aiyana.
Amy Bruce, operations manager for Whiz Kids City Care, notes that Boone and Issac continue to share a close bond, years after Issac graduated from Whiz Kids. “They spend time together every week,” she shares. “Sharon taught Issac to love reading and to love the Lord. Issac is a confident young man with a bright future who loves to share his Whiz Kids stories with others.”
Issac often comes back to the site where he was mentored, where he talks about the importance of the program and what they can get out of their involvement. “This is all because Mrs. Sharon loved him and took time to mentor him,” says Bruce.
Boone recalls an incident that really brought home to her the difference Whiz Kids mentors can make in the lives of their mentees.
One summer, her husband ordered the youth version of the autobiography of Ben Carson, Gifted Hands, and asked her to give it to Issac to use as the subject of a book report. “Issac had never done a book report, but with a little coaching, he was game,” recalls Boone. After Issac completed and turned in his report, Boone and her tutoring partner, Leslie Brooks, prepared a dinner for the mentee, his mother, Gifty. After dinner, they watched the Gifted Hands DVD together.
“Gifty was quite taken with what she saw,” Boone says – so much so, in fact, that she directed her children to turn off the TV and read more.
Following this incident, the tutoring partners issued a challenge to their mentees to read 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The students were given a chart on which to record their reading times. Their reward, should they not miss a single day during the month, was a dinner and evening of games or another fun event.
“They loved it, and a new tradition began that has continued to this day, even during the summers,” Boone says, adding, “Their commitment to fulfill the challenge changed their educational direction!”
Boone cherishes the “little moments” that fill her time with Whiz Kids. “When they see you and run to give you a big hug. When you see the light bulb come on for them in reading. When they invite you to their school activities and their family events. It is a blessing to help kids, but it’s an even bigger blessing to have their trust and love in return.”
About the Program: For 22 years, Whiz Kids has been working with at-risk kids in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area to improve reading skills and comprehension and to foster mentoring relationships with caring adults. Whiz Kids sites are churches in each school’s community that donate their facility and provide tutors and an on-site coordinator.