Saturday, July 13, 2013

OSU-OKC Lunch Buddies & More

OSU-OKC's Westwood Elementary Lunch Buddies, Scholarship, Penny Drive...a true college and elementary school partnership.

The original idea was to put thoughts of going to college someday in the minds of students and their parents who might otherwise not be thinking of college as a realistic option in their lives.  

The Lunch Bunch
Starting in 2006, a couple of days each week (September through May) at 11:30 a.m., an employee from OSU-OKC has gone to the library at Westwood Elementary and sat down and listened to a student read aloud. If few volunteers go, reading and listening can be done in fifteen-minute rotations.

Many of the Westwood students are Hispanic and come from Spanish-speaking homes. OSU-OKC volunteers listen to the students read aloud in English and help them with pronunciation, grammar and comprehension of what they have just read. Reading mentoring was a good place to start since reading is a fundamental life skill. 
OSU is everywhere!

·     Penny and School Supplies Drives
      In 2009, OSU-OKC began a campus-wide school supply drive and a penny drive each year to help with supplies for the students and the teachers. The pennies collected go specifically to buy extra copy paper for the accelerated math programs.
      Campus Tour for Fifth Graders 
      In 2012, OSU-OKC began organizing a campus tour in the spring of every year for the fifth graders that are promoting into middle school.  Staff and faculty promote the sciences, computer technology and public safety programs by giving the students an opportunity to visit with college professors and participate in science experiments, forensic evidence collection and computer gaming.  

·     Pledge and Scholarship for Fifth Graders 
      Since 2010, OSU-OKC has offered a scholarship opportunity for each of the fifth graders promoting into middle school.  The student and their parents must sign a pledge to 

  •       graduate high school from an Oklahoma City Public School,
  •       stay out of legal trouble, and
  •       be legally eligible to apply for the State of Oklahoma’s tuition grants*, other state college tuition waivers and the FAFSA federal grant program. 
* Currently, the state's program is "Oklahoma’s Promise" or Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP). 

      OSU-OKC has pledged to pay the remainder of the students’ tuition and books after the Oklahoma’s Promise and the federal grants have been applied to their Bursar’s accounts.  Students will not be required to take out student loans.  

      Stricklin says that it's not just students who are excited about the possibilities of the future. "It's an incentive for parents to keep their children in school," she said. "They might have thought they'd never to be able to afford college, but this makes that possible." 

      The mentoring and the scholarship opportunities have converted some Sooner lovers to Pokes devotees!

Janet Stricklin & Pistol Pete 
      The Spreadsheet 
      Stricklin maintains a spreadsheet as a reminder of when to send birthday and other greeting cards as students make their way through middle school.


      Promotion to Middle School Celebration - Like an athletic signing ceremony!
After Westwood students walk across the stage at their fifth-grade promotion ceremony, an OSU official greets them and their parents or guardian to sign a pledge. This is a special family-oriented celebration of accomplishment, hope and goal-setting.

Making a Difference
Westwood Elementary was once a high risk school and was scheduled to be closed.  At this time, it is still open, and students are moving into middle school.

Interviews and emails with Janet StricklinAcademic Affairs, OSU-Oklahoma City, June/July 2013

"Janet Stricklin: Valuable Volunteer," Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation newsletter, May 29, 2012

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