Important COVID-19 information: Our Programs | FAQs | Resources for families

Back to News

October 18, 2021

Partnership Spotlight: Asbury United Methodist Church

In September, we announced our new partnership with Union Public Schools and our readiness to support student learning no matter what this school year brings. We knew we had our work cut out for us when it came to recruiting the 1,700 weekly volunteers needed to serve 1,400 kindergarten through fourth-grade students across our 28 reading centers.

Planning for this partnership started two years ago with four schools ultimately chosen to be the first to host the program. Reading Partners Tulsa Executive Director Heather Kawlra explained how they chose the schools. “We worked with the district to narrow that down to a starting group of four schools that both had students who would benefit from our programming, who would really excel in a one-on-one tutoring model with our community volunteers, and schools that also had volunteer partnerships that could help us support getting tutors into the buildings to work with the students in this way.” 


Union Public Schools participates in The Center for Community Schools Strategies through the Community Service Council. The Community School’s philosophy supports school personnel, parents, neighbors, and community partners working together so children can participate in a strong instructional program by living and learning in safe and supportive environments.

With help from the community school coordinator/parent liaison at Grove Elementary, Shiloh Wolff, the Reading Partners Tulsa Community Engagement team began conversations fueled by the desire to establish a foundation of tutors at each of our new reading centers inside Union Public Schools. 

Union Public Schools is committed to strengthening children, families, and communities. Eight full-service Community Schools at Union, including Grove Elementary, serve as hubs for programs that include expanded learning opportunities, family engagement, and a variety of social services. As a Community School, Grove offers a robust menu of resources and programs to meet the needs of students and families including Baby Book Club, after-school programs, family events, holiday assistance, school-based Counseling, and now Reading Partners. 

Asbury“Reading Partners provides an incredible opportunity for volunteers to be able to cultivate positive relationships with Grove students by helping them improve their reading skills,” said Wolff. “By becoming a Reading Partner, one has the amazing possibility to become a difference-maker for some incredible students and inspire a life-long love of learning!” 

As Wolff has witnessed, the widespread school interruptions of the past few years have exacerbated pre-existing opportunity gaps, recalling how “recently, many students have needed additional encouragement, specifically in reading. We hope Grove students will gain confidence in their reading skills through these valuable experiences with Reading Partners.”

Asbury United Methodist Church has been a community partner with Grove Elementary for ten years, providing multiple venues for members to participate in local outreach

Linda Furmann is one of over 20 volunteers from Asbury United Methodist Church who answered the call to join Reading Partners this year. She and a group of friends start each Tuesday with Bible study and lunch before they go to Grove for their tutoring session. She shares with us her perspective of the work she does at Grove Elementary.

asburyReading Partners: Knowing that Asbury has an established partnership with Grove Elementary, what inspired you to seek out a volunteer experience at Reading Partners?

Linda Furman: Grove is almost in the shadow of Asbury’s steeple, and as the church wants to be involved and serve the community, it has been a great place for volunteers to serve for the last ten years. When shutdowns began due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could no longer work in the classrooms. The Reading Partners program was presented to us as a way we could safely still be involved with students.

RP: How do you hope to fulfill the community outreach mission of Asbury United Methodist Church by partnering with Reading Partners at Grove Elementary?

LF: There is always joy in sharing and helping others! It is our hope that we can help the students learn to love reading.

RP: Why is it important now more than ever to support students in their literacy growth after an unprecedented year due to COVID-19?

LF:  I think it is always important to help the future generation and encourage those who are teaching them. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many students to fall behind, and hopefully our volunteering can help them catch up.

This year, we are excited to offer both Reading Partners traditional, in-person tutoring and Reading Partners Connects, virtual tutoring. Learn more about our different tutoring options in this short video.

“We hope that by volunteering as a Reading Partner tutor, this would also motivate future additional volunteering with Grove. We are so grateful for Reading Partners to be a part of our Grove community,” Shiloh said. 

If you would like to support Reading Partners with additional volunteer recruitment efforts, please contact Haley Biram, community engagement manager of recruitment, at or (918) 949-1979.


Entering schools during the 2021-22 school year:*

  • We know that in-person tutoring is impactful and highly desired by parents, communities, and districts, therefore, in schools that are open, we will operate our program in-person within those schools.
  • We will take COVID safety at schools extremely seriously, and follow the safety protocols to protect our students and the larger community. 
  • All Reading Partners Traditional (in-person) volunteers will be required to wear masks.
  • (**Tulsa Public Schools Only) All Reading Partners traditional volunteers must carry proof of vaccination.
  • Logo for Accelerate
  • Logo for Five Below
  • Logo for Hellman Foundation
  • Logo for Bezos Family Foundation
  • Logo for George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Logo for Panda Cares
  • Logo for The Duke Endowment
  • Logo for Deerbrook Charitable Trust

Thanks to our partners

Site by Vermilion Credits Privacy Policy ©2024 Reading Partners