Owasso Education Foundation Provides Funding

Managing Editor

OWASSO SUPPORT: From left, Owasso Education Foundation (OEF) board member Susan McKeon, board chair Stephanie Horne and Delight Quach, Kendra Scott sales associate, pose together in January during an OEF fundraising event at the Kendra Scott jewelry store in Utica Square in Tulsa.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

School budgets may be in crisis mode, but the Owasso community continues to show its support of education. One evidence of that is through the Owasso Education Foundation ().

OEF’s 2015 Holiday Home Tour raised nearly $50,000, a new peak for the event, says board chair Stephanie Horne.

During the 2015-16 school year, the foundation has already given $54,000 to teachers through its Grant to Teachers program, with an additional $42,000 in grants to be given in April, a total of $96,000 during the school year.

The foundation’s two annual fundraising events are its Holiday Home Tour in December and the Patriot Classic Golf Tournament in May.

In January, held an additional fundraising event at the Kendra Scott jewelry store in Utica Square in Tulsa, where 20 percent of jewelry sales for that evening benefitted . The store sold $4,000 during the three-hour period, and will receive a check for just over $800.

began in 1990 with the focus of supporting classroom teachers and education through community events and awareness campaigns.

The foundation’s Grants to Teachers program provides supplemental funding to teachers in order to provide additional student educational opportunities.

The foundation chooses grants based on the number of students impacted, the length of impact, cost, encouragement of creative learning, integration of technology in the classroom and other factors.

Barnes Elementary music teacher Robin Wall and Eighth Grade Center media specialist Cindy Jolley have both been on the receiving end of OEF’s annual teacher grants.

Wall joined Barnes in 2013, and since that time she has received four grants that have helped her to provide additional instruments for her students including tone chimes, drums, triangles, alto and soprano xylophones, and metallophones.

“When I first came to Barnes, there was only one xylophone and one metallophone,” says Wall.

In fall 2015, Wall received a grant for $4,687, which allowed her to purchase one bass xylophone, two bass metallophones and one set of bass bars.

“Adding these other instruments to the classroom, they change students’ experiences with music. These instruments cause the depth of the music to change; the texture of the sound is different. You can literally feel it vibrate in the ears,” she says.

And obviously, with more instruments in the classroom, more children have the opportunity to play them.

Her students’ responses?

“To see the excitement and anticipation on students’ faces; they say, ‘I can’t wait for my turn.’ One boy said to me, ‘This is so calming,’” Wall laughs.

Cool Beans Coffee Club is an early morning book group that began at the Eighth Grade Center three years ago.

Jolley received a grant for $850 in fall 2015 to benefit the coffee club.
The club meets every other Friday and regularly sees about 80 students in attendance.

“It has a coffeehouse feel,” says Jolley, who is a 32-year teacher, all of those years being with the Owasso school district.

Nick Mendez, the Eighth Grade Center’s Spanish teacher, plays jazz guitar to provide background music. Students come in 30 minutes before school starts and get hot chocolate or tea and engage in book talks where they tell their fellow students about what they are reading.

“It’s incredible that they’re willing to talk in front of their peers,” says Jolley. “And it’s something different that encourages kids to read.”

Jolley also recently received a $1,500 grant that will go toward bringing children’s and young adult author Roland Smith to all of the district’s schools to speak May 3-6. Smith will visit the Eighth Grade Center on May 6.

Smith is a zookeeper turned author. He will speak to students about his experiences and his writing process.

Jolley has received multiple grants through the years from the foundation and also from private and federal grants. “I am always looking for any avenue to raise money for the kids, any way to provide books for kids,” she says.

OEF’s next fundraiser is its third annual Patriot Classic Golf Tournament, to be held at The Patriot Golf Club in May.

Updated 03-03-2016

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