Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tulsa's 2014 Partners in Education Awards

The Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce and Tulsa Public Schools have a successful 30-year partnership and model in recruiting and honoring Tulsans who contribute to the school system. Here is the post from the Tulsa Regional Chamber website. Of particular importance are the ways in which businesses and organizations encourage education/ training and develop the workforce. 

APSCO, Inc. CEO Larry Mocha earns 2014 Partner of the Year award
Posted on: May 14th, 2014

APSCO, Inc. President and CEO Larry Mocha was named Partners In Education’s 2014 Partner of the Year on Wednesday as the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Tulsa Public Schools honored TPS’ top business, church and volunteer supporters at the annual Partners In Education Recognition Reception.

Mocha co-founded OK2GROW, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving high school completion rates, promoting entrepreneurism among youth and developing Tulsa’s workforce pipeline. The organization offers scholarships to young entrepreneurs and oversees the High School Completion Coalition, which meets monthly with community leaders and school administrators to keep students in school. Mocha and his company are partnered with Nathan Hale Jr. High School under the Partners In Education Program.

“A true giver to our community, Larry Mocha has invested, time, money and sweat to make sure students and their parents are fully aware of education and job opportunities,” said Kuma Browne, Tulsa Regional Chamber education program manager.

Mocha said supporting education — and encouraging support throughout the business community — is a top goal of his company: “What we want to do as a company is to have more businesses recognize the need to support our educational institutions, specifically our public school system. Hopefully, what we’re doing and what we’re doing together will help make that happen.”

Each year, the Chamber honors people and organizations who support schools through Partners In Education, a 30-year-old partnership between the Chamber and TPS to connect children and teachers with corporate and  volunteer assistance to improve academic and personal growth for students.

More than 60 businesses and individuals were nominated for awards in 13 categories this year. During a joint award ceremony at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa, Chamber and TPS officials delivered the awards to businesses, churches, two students and a principal:

Student Champion Award: The winners, Webster High School students Corey and Cortavia Brown, created the “It Stops with Me” anti-bullying group, which created an inclusive support group of students and asked specific teachers to act as safe places for kids to share their bullying experiences. The group also staged a bullying incident to gauge how students would react and offer tops for what to do if witnessing bullying.

Principal of Excellence Award: Booker T. Washington Principal James Furch was honored for a long tenure that has earned the respect of his peers. During his tenure, Booker T. Washington has been named one of Newsweek’s top 100 high schools five years in a row.

PSO Public Service Partnership Award: Highland Park Christian Church was honored for donating time and resources to its partner school, Hoover Elementary, including purchasing benches for the school’s playground, donating supplies, beautification projects and hosting a mentor program.

Champions Award: T.D. Williamson, Inc.’s charity to its partner school, Robertson Elementary, has included providing buses for field trips; purchasing Warehouse Market gift cards for needy families during Christmas and Thanksgiving; helping build an outdoor classroom; buying hats and gloves for all students; matching funds at various fundraisers; and buying school supplies. This partner also pays the salary of a community schools coordinator, funds school and family enrichment efforts and does something special for a teacher each year during Teacher Appreciation week.

Award of Excellence: Verizon Wireless’ charity to its partner school, McKinley Elementary, has included providing employee volunteers as lunch buddies and mentors; hosting an annual school drive; providing Angel Tree-style giving during the holidays; hosting a Thanksgiving food drive that supplied 260 meals to needy families last year; giving books to students and having employees act as pen pals for students.

Outstanding District Partner: Arvest Bank was honored for charity to its partner school, Columbus Elementary, that has included funding a computer lab and school uniforms; having its employees volunteer to translate during parent/teacher conferences; providing test proctors; and, at Christmas, giving families wrapping paper, disposable cameras and helping develop their family Christmas photos. Arvest also displays student artwork at its downtown location through a monthly student art contest.

Valuable Investment Award: Covanta Tulsa Renewable Energy was honored for charitable giving to its partner school, Eugene Field Elementary, including providing snacks, wipes and Kleenex to every teacher and classroom; buying clothes for students in need; donating funds and supplying volunteers for the PTA’s annual carnival and hosting a cleanup day for the neighborhood.

Outstanding Faith-based Partner (large congregation): Southern Hills Baptist Church’s charity to its partner school, Marshall Elementary, has included adopting classes to help with projects and launching a “Sharefest” event where congregates have donated time to projects such as cleaning out a school flower bed, painting classrooms, building bookshelves and installing an indoor track. The church also provided 250 Thanksgiving baskets to 250 families at both Marshall and McClure.

Outstanding Faith-based Partner: Restoration Church’s charity to its partner school, East Central High School, has included providing proctors for end of instruction tests, giving teachers gifts during Teacher Appreciation Week, helping with mother-daughter and father-son breakfasts and hosting an annual senior picnic and annual volleyball team banquet.

Dedicated Partnership Award: The McLain Foundation, made up of McLain High School alumni, has encouraged McLain students to participate in community activism; it holds college and career fairs, offers tutoring and mentoring, hosts a literacy program and sponsors students to attend the American Airlines Initiative field trip to the Flight Academy in Dallas. More than 60 students have had job shadowing and training opportunities during its four-year partnership with the school.

Outstanding Small Business Partner: HiCORP, Inc. and owner Brad Camp were honored for charity to partner school Eugene Field Elementary that has included encouraging employees to volunteer as lunch or reading buddies; providing field trips to the company’s offices and warehouse; offering Christmas gifts and teacher gifts; and hosting reading parties for students.

Chittom Challenge Award: “Bandy” Pratip Banyopadhyay, a volunteer at Webster High School, helps teach Algebra and pre-Calculus classes. Nominators said he has turned down numerous paid job offers in favor of his volunteer position and has demonstrated an extreme passion for learning that has made him popular with students.

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