Putnam City Schools Foundation to be Recognized for Outstanding Achievement

10.09.2018 12:05 PM

The Putnam City Schools Foundation is one of three public school foundations that have been selected as recipients of 2018 Outstanding Program Awards presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its Oklahoma School Foundations Network. The award recognizes innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma. The Putnam City Schools Foundation is receiving its award, accompanied by a plaque and a monetary award of $1,000, for its English language literacy program for parents.

In conjunction with the Putnam City school district, the Foundation provides a free English Language Literacy Program for Parents as a way to help support academic achievement for English Learner students and their families. The classes are offered by certified instructors twice each week during the academic year, totaling more than 215 hours in available instruction.

“Today, the Putnam City School district has more children from diverse backgrounds than ever before,” says Foundation Board Past President Roger Cude, adding that 62 different languages are spoken by district families. “Since parents are a child’s first teacher, our efforts to equip them with English enable parents to feel more comfortable in our schools and more comfortable helping their children with homework. They participate more in teacher conferences and attend more school events as a result.”

Teachers identify parents who may benefit from the classes and provide them a flyer, written in their native language, about the free program. Upon joining the program, parents’ English literacy skills are tested by certified instructors, and they are placed in one of four learning levels. While parents learn English through a civics and financial literacy curriculum, their school-aged children receive tutoring and homework assistance. Childcare is provided for younger children. The classes are held at a local school with a high enrollment of English Learner families.

At the mid-point of the classes, parents are re-tested and re-leveled as needed. At the end of the year, participants celebrate their success with a potluck dinner and receive a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution from the Foundation.

A majority of parents who take the classes advance to the next level, Cude says, and those who don’t can stay at their current level and continue working toward the benchmark. In post-instruction surveys, participants have reported improving their family’s financial position because of improved English literacy, feeling a stronger connection to their school community and being better equipped to help their children with homework.

“Through this program, students get the emotional security that comes with parent guidance, which is a proven marker of academic success as well as emotional growth,” Cude says.

Donna Alexander, director of the Oklahoma School Foundations Network, says the award-winning programs offered by the Putnam City Schools Foundation and two other school foundations make a difference.

“We are honoring these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities. In addition, we will recognize these innovative programs among their peers at regional meetings so that other school foundations might emulate or adapt these ideas in their own school districts,” she says.