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June 23, 2015

Amy Polonchek shares why Tulsa Public Schools loves Reading Partners

Greetings from Amy Polonchek, vice president of regional and state operations.

What a great time to join Reading Partners. I’m so excited to join Elizabeth Vereecke and the Tulsa team as we continue and expand upon the great work being done to serve struggling readers in Tulsa, Oklahoma and beyond!

I first connected with Reading Partners in my former role as chief of staff at Tulsa Public Schools (TPS). We were faced with large gaps in student achievement and a plethora of interventions and programs that did not seem to be working. Honestly, I was a little weary of hearing from so many service providers as we tried to identify the best partners for our situation.

Reading Partners offered such a bright spot, and TPS was pleased to invite them into the district. We weren’t enthusiastic about Reading Partners because we liked the staff (which we did), or because our funders asked us to take a look (which they did), but for three much better reasons.

First, Reading Partners works. The evidence of accelerated reading growth is strong.

Second, Reading Partners is teacher and principal friendly. Principals choose and fund this partnership — it is not forced on them. Site coordinators ensure there is no extra burden on school staff.

Finally, Reading Partners is built on meaningful community engagement. I knew volunteers would take to this high-impact opportunity, and they have. Tulsa has engaged more than 1,400 volunteers this year! I have just finished my second rewarding year as a reading partner, and even talked Dr. Ballard, our outgoing superintendent, to join the ranks.

All the children in our community deserve the opportunity to succeed in reading and life. This is important work, and I can’t imagine working toward anything else.  

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