This summer, the YMCA of Greater Tulsa focused our efforts on closing the achievement gap many of our kids face when they are out of school for three months. Our goal is to help kids retain the knowledge they learned over the last school year returning in the fall ready to excel.
We believe it is so powerful when agencies partner to achieve greater results than they ever could alone. Last week, we celebrated the culmination of a month long program at Skelly Elementary with a circus! Community Action Project, Head Start graduates spent a month participating in the Scholars on the GO program. CAP teachers provide a morning of academics, followed by College for Kids sessions provided by Tulsa Community College. They spent their afternoons up and moving, with a special circus arts program. The Scholars on the GO program served 164 children, with a growing waiting list the entire month.
Listen to Susan Baston, principal at McClure Elementary talk about KiKi's continued transformation.
Also checkout our partnership with Tulsa's School of Arts and Sciences, where one teenage boy lost more than 100 pounds and has a new outlook on life.
A note from McClure Elementary Principal, Susan Baston.
KiKi, a fourth grader at McClure, was known as a school bully and a frequent flyer in the principal’s office. When I say frequent flyer, you have no idea how much time we spent together. KiKi could lead a group of students into a “he said, she said” rumor mill with great skill. Kiki was overweight and although other students knew better than to tease her, her self-esteem was very low. She also struggled academically. In the middle of the winter her family’s apartment at London Square was destroyed in a major fire. The last several months of school they were relocated several times as they tried to get their lives back on track.
After Matt made his presentation to the McClure staff about the GO Club program, KiKi’s fourth grade teacher emphatically recommended her. In partnership with the GO program each Thursday the Tulsa HUB would teach the kids bicycle skills and safety. The first time that the students actually got on the bicycles it became apparent that KiKi, school bully and one of the oldest students in the group, couldn’t ride a bike! Thru the efforts of HUB volunteers (and A LOT of individual coaching by Summer) KiKi learned to ride a bike for the first time. She even made the 6 mile ride to the Quick Trip Park as part of the culminating activities.
Before school ended, KiKi admitted to me that she also didn’t know how to swim. She admitted to being a little nervous about summer camp and swim lessons but when I reminded her that she had just accomplished an amazing feat of learning to ride a bicycle, she grinned and agreed that she could tackle swimming too.
On the next to last day of school KiKi’s homeroom class called me to meet them in the hallway. Each student had on a t-shirt that read “I grew _____ years in reading.” Their teacher had on a t-shirt that read “we grew 2.5 years in reading.” As I praised the students, wiped my tears, and told them how proud I was of them-the entire class started saying-“Ms. Baston, Ms. Baston-KiKi grew the most.” Sure enough, KiKi was standing proudly with a t-shirt that said “I grew 2.75 years in reading.” Now this was a class of students who earlier in the year was frustrated and tired of KiKi’s behavior but now couldn’t wait to tell me that she had made the most progress in reading of anyone in the class.
KiKi had made huge progress in other ways as well. Not once since she started GO did KiKi appear in my office on a disciplinary referral. In fact, teachers and students noticed a new confidence in her and we saw her becoming a model citizen. KiKi has returned to McClure this year. Although we’ve only been in school for 4 days-we see a new KiKi. She has already asked when GO will start!
This year, a small, local foundation along with support from the global giving network provided funding to expand into yet another school- McClure elementary. This school is located in a neighborhood with one of the highest poverty and crime rates in Tulsa. A food desert, with few opportunities for children to be both active and safe. The e- mail below was sent to us just days after the project launched.
From the principle at McClure Elementary:
Thought you would love this positive email from one of my great 2nd grade teachers. She is already seeing a difference in a couple of her students. Marquan used to be a frequent flyer in my office and since he started this program I haven’t seen him even one time. Keep up the good work.
I wanted to tell you that I'm noticing a difference in two of my students who attend the GO Club. Mekhi and Marquan love attending and every morning they feel the need to give the class an update on what they do in the GO Club. The other day they shared that they had a snack of bread and apples; also they got to ride some cool bikes. They both mentioned how they walk a lot and their feet hurt. However, the biggest difference I've seen is in their energy. Mekhi is starting to perk up more and both he and Marquan have asked to bring their water bottles back to class (Marquan was banned from bringing his water bottle when he threw it at my desk). These two are so excited that other members of the class wish they could attend. I just wanted to share some good news with you.
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