February 13, 2020
The importance of making connections and diverse representation for young students
In honor of Black History Month, Reading Partners Tulsa site coordinator Owon Johnson shares her experience as a mentor to kids at Hawthorn Elementary. Her connections with students are deepened by shared experience—Owon sees parts of herself in her students and students see their opportunity through Owon.
Research shows, black and latinx students who have teachers or mentors of their same racial or ethnic background are 19 percent more likely to feel engaged, compared to students who did not have that experience, which has a direct impact on their academic outcomes.
I feel like I have a connection with other black students because I share that background and experience. I think it’s important that they do have representation of what they could be and what they could do when they get older.
Owon Johnson attended Hawthorne Elementary in Tulsa Public Schools and recalls an environment filled with great memories and mentors. She chose to commit to a year of service through AmeriCorps at her alma mater so that she could give back to the community that welcomed her with positive encouragement and support.
“It’s rewarding because with Reading Partners, I’m a part of helping [students] grow, learn, and helping them to keep their heads in the books. Then, when it’s time to have fun, I’m there to have fun with them too!”