Foundation program aims to boost bilingual teachers in OKC public schools

November 02, 2020

Two more individuals will join the Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher workforce soon. Sarahi and Yesenia are both completing their requirements in the Teacher Education program at UCO and preparing for a December graduation.

They are participants in The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Program, a “Grow Your Own” initiative that funds college tuition, fees and books for paraprofessionals working in the district.

There are currently 44 participants, with three (soon to be five) graduates.

The Diversity Teacher Pipeline Program is the other arm of the Teacher Pipeline Program and focuses on paraprofessionals of color. There are currently 15 Black participants on their way to becoming certified teachers in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

    Research demonstrates that students of color exhibit increases in social and academic outcomes when they have teachers who look like them. Teachers of color tend to hold higher standards for their students of color and exhibit higher degrees of cultural competency.

    Funding for these programs is provided solely by private donors and work because of partnerships with the school district and higher education leaders. The road to a college degree can be especially challenging for nontraditional students. They work full time, take care of their families and handle additional pressures that comes from being educated in another country or out of school for a long period of time. In addition to funding, additional support and resources are also required to help participants succeed.

    "I am, I can, I will, I do" has become the mantra of these programs, as it takes persistence and a will to succeed that ultimately gets participants across the graduation stage. Completion of the teacher certification process is opening doors to a new world, both for participants and their students. Ultimately, our entire community benefits.