Oklahoma City Public Schools can celebrate some recent wins

August 28, 2017

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Taking the time to celebrate wins is important, and never more important than when times are tough. Oklahoma City Public Schools has had plenty of tough times the past few years. Crippling budget issues and a plethora of other bad stories have made the news on an almost daily basis. But, some stories that don't always grab the headlines deserve attention.

In a recent presentation to a crowd of South OKC Chamber members, hosted by the Police Athletic League and the Wheeler District, and again at the State of the Schools event hosted by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, Superintendent Aurora Lora spoke about some wins that everyone in Oklahoma City should know about.

She mentioned that teachers and principals have commented that this school year opening has gone smoother than any in recent history. A smooth opening only happens with a lot of good planning and collaboration. That's a win.

Lora brought up the newly implemented program that provides free breakfast and lunch to 100 percent of OKCPS students through a federal grant. Lora pointed out that in the past, children who didn't qualify for free lunch would struggle when their lunch card wasn't replenished. This is so often the case when living on the verge of poverty is the reality. These kids would sometimes skip eating to avoid embarrassment, which is not keeping them ready to learn. Making sure our students are fed and ready to learn, without shame, is huge. Problem solved with an innovative solution. That's a win.

Emerson South, a new alternative school, opened in time for this school year, providing a beautiful new location in South Oklahoma City. Having an alternative school in South OKC allows students with a variety of issues, including teen motherhood, to complete high school in an environment that is supportive and flexible. We know that Emerson has great results for our students, so adding these accommodations to a new area in the city was a smart and strategic move by OKCPS. That's a win.

Summit Base Camp is a program supported by the Mark Zuckerberg Foundation and is being piloted in eight schools with tremendous results. This program allows for individualized learning using technology. Students learn at their own pace and also learn teamwork and problem solving by working in groups. One 6th grade student in OKCPS finished all 6th grade coursework by December last year. That is innovative learning, and that is a win.

PSAT and SAT test preparation is quite expensive and an obstacle for many OKCPS students. District leadership is partnering with Khan Academy to provide test preparation and tutoring to students, free of charge. Finding resourceful ways to support our students and their achievements is a win.

Discipline issues continue to decline within the district, in large part due to wrap around services and professional development aimed at assisting educators with how to determine root causes of problems for our students and families. Discipline issues are devastating for all students. Working to reduce and eliminate them in a holistic way is a win.

Just think what Oklahoma City Public Schools could do for our students with adequate funding.

Read Mary Mélon's original NewsOK editorial