Volunteers tutor children at RSC adopted schools

 Carina Snow
News Editor

Over a decade RSC has filled nearly 800 volunteer positions, such as tutoring students, at Telstar and Willow Brook, RSC’s adopted elementary schools; the college community strives to enhance these children’s education and lives.

With more than 16 million U.S. children living in families below the poverty level, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, many school children are considered “at-risk.”

Bob Davis and his Protege, Jeremiah, take a break from reading to enjoy some leisure time. Photo Submitted by Bob Davis

Bob Davis and his Protege, Jeremiah, take a break from reading to enjoy some leisure time. Photo Submitted by Bob Davis

Dr. Henry M. Levin of Stanford University said in a report that, “the United States faces an immense crisis in educating at-risk students, who are unlikely to succeed in existing schools. Such Students comprise over one-third of all elementary and secondary school enrollments, and their numbers are rising absolutely and proportionally over time.”

RSC’s website states “in July 2001 Rose State College reached out to adopt Telstar and Willow Brook Elementary Schools. Both Schools were identified as “at risk” schools by the Oklahoma City Public School District.”

Improving the odds for children “at risk”
RSC is working to improve the odds of success for Telstar and Willow Brook students by volunteering time and resources. In an email, Kathryn G. Douglas of Oklahoma City Public Schools, said RSC’s adopted schools program has sent roughly 30 volunteers to Willow Brook and 40-50 to Telstar annually. School supplies have also been donated.

Caron Monday, third grade teacher at Willow Brook, said in an email that RSC tutors serve an important purpose. “All our students love having the volunteers work with them. Our students need positive role models that make them feel like they can do and be anything. That’s what I have seen from all the volunteers when they are at work with our students,” she said.
Bringing up the grades
An important aspect of the adopted schools program is giving individual attention to the children. Monday said that there are between 18 and 25 students per teacher. Tutors focus on helping individual students improve in academic areas in which they are struggling.

“Each child benefits from one-on-one tutoring,” she said. “Most of our students read below grade level and this is the area they need the most help. The volunteers help us reach goals faster.”

Reaching these goals is imperative for Willow Brook and Telstar. According to The Oklahoman, in 2012 the letter grade for both schools was a “D,” under the state’s new grading system, which replaced the Academic Performance Index previously used by the “No Child Left Behind Act.”

“The volunteers from Rose State College make a huge difference for many children and myself. Each tutor puts their hearts into every child they come into contact with. It’s amazing for a teacher to have volunteers that care for the students as the volunteers from Rose State [do],” Monday said.
The volunteers
Bob Davis, RSC training and development specialist, tutored a boy in Monday’s class at Willow Brook in 2012, and plans to volunteer again this year. “There was an immense amount of satisfaction in being a part of his learning process,” Davis said. “The teacher was very receptive to having an extra person to help.”

Davis visited Willow Brook on his lunch hour and would spend about 45 minutes reading with Monday’s student. “He seemed to enjoy it. He got to leave the classroom, and we went to the library to do the reading. Sometimes the teacher would send sight words that he needed to improve on,” he said.

Davis encourages RSC community members to volunteer. “They would find it to be an incredible reward personally, and a benefit to these schools as they’re striving to improve their overall grade.”

Aside from helping the children, “it helps [RSC students] out with scholarships to show that type of community service,” Davis said. Service learning credit, and work study hours are also available to RSC students volunteering at the adopted schools.
Striving to make a difference
Joy C. Yates, RSC administrative assistant for special services, said the LRC’s Friends of the Library have read books, art students have painted murals, and faculty and staff have conducted classroom presentations for the adopted schools. The TEACH club is among RSC organizations that volunteer for the program.

“One of the reasons why [Telstar and Willow Brook] are connected with us is because of their location and their need,” Yates said. The schools are within 10 minutes driving distance from campus.

“They love the attention,” Yates said of the adopted schools’ children. Being a consistent tutor “helps build a relationship with the teachers that they are working with as well as the students,” she said. Volunteers can also help with class field trips.

Volunteers who tutor 20 hours will be entered into a grand prize drawing for an Apple iPad Mini; the winner will be randomly chosen on Dec. 12, and the first 12 volunteers to complete their first day of tutoring will receive gift cards.

To volunteer at RSC’s adopted schools sign up at the Special Services Office in the Student Services Building Room 101, or contact Joy Yates at 405-733-7373, or by email at jyates@rose.edu. Visit http://www.rose.edu/adopted-school-faqs for FAQ.
Start Side Bar: According to the Okla. Education Oversight Board Office of Accountability 2012 School Report Card, of 514 students at Willow Brook, 91 percent qualify for free or reduced price lunches. This number climbs to 93 percent for the 321 students at Telstar Elementary. This is considerably higher than the state’s 61 percent average, and reflects the circumstances many of the children face.

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