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October 7, 2020

Reading Partners Tulsa: Changing gears to help readers amid pandemic

Originally published on KJRH NBC 2

tutoring virtually

TULSA, Okla. — In the seven years that Reading Partners Tulsa has been working to improve the literacy of students in lower-income areas with less access to resources, the non-profit has been met with multiple challenges. So, the team of staff and volunteers said working to help students won’t be haunted by a pandemic either.

Reading Partners Tulsa first started serving children in 2013 with a goal to help the community support young students receive the necessary individualized support to become strong readers and support lifelong learning.

Executive Director Justin Harlan said planning for the program to completely switch how they reach students started in March.

“For our program, there was never really a question as to whether the need would be there because we know in the midst of this pandemic, unfortunately, some of the inequities our city experiences are heightened,” Harlan said.

Access to quality tutors is how Reading Partners Tulsa works towards it’s goal of empowering children through fostering a strong foundation in the lifelong skill. The organization partners with parents, Tulsa community leaders, and public schools to bring volunteers to students who need them. However, COVID-19 has prevented the traditional way the program functions to happen.

“The pandemic has disrupted just about everything,” Harlan said. “So, first and foremost we started to think about how we could still reach kids who would still need us the most.”

With eager volunteers like veteran teacher Rosemary Gee, the Reading Partners Tulsa team changed gears to offer tutoring virtually.

“I’m just so passionate about it, it’s amazing seeing how a student gets better with reading,” Gee said. “This new virtual tutoring is defiantly different, but it’s fun because it’s something new.”

Through video chat platforms like Google Teams and Zoom, Reading Partners Tulsa is still connecting Tulsa metro area students with free tutors.

“Now its easier than ever to get involved,” Harlan said. “It’s important to work through whatever challenges there are to help our students because students who aren’t up to their proper reading level by third grade are for times less likely to graduate from high school.”

To be a volunteer, donate, or sign your child up for free tutoring services, click here.

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